At today’s Parliamentary hearing, London Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis questioned Maltese Foreign Minister Tonio Borg to evaluate his competence to become a Member of the European Commission with responsibility for the health and consumer affairs portfolio.

Mrs. Yannakoudakis, who is the European Parliament’s contact point for the European Centre for Disease Control, reminded Dr. Borg that health policy is an issue which remains largely a Member State competence.

She proceeded to question Dr. Borg on irregularities in EU health and consumer agencies as well as on revisions to the EU Clinical Trials Directive

Mrs. Yannakoudakis said:  “The current Clinical Trials Directive has been one of the most criticised pieces of legislation ever to emerge from the EU machinery.

“Despite its laudable objectives, we all know that the number of clinical trials in the EU has dropped by 25% since 2004, the time taken to launch new trials has increased by 90% and the burden of red tape has grown.”

She called on Dr. Borg to ensure “that the new regulatory framework boosts rather than hinders the work of our top scientists”

Mrs. Yannakoudakis also raised the issue of EU agencies, especially the European Medicines Agency and the European Food Safety Agency which have both been accused of conflicts of interest.

She said: “We have talked about the EU budget and I am pleased that you are not against ‘sensible cuts’. This is something which my constituents demand.

“We have also talked about EU agencies. I am pleased with your stance on conflict of interest. But what concrete plans do you have to come to terms with conflicts of interest, revolving doors, poor management and questionable auditing at EU agencies.

“And, in the interests of value for money, will you propose ‘sensible cuts’ to their budgets?”

Commissioner-designate Borg agreed, if confirmed, to discuss common rules for EU agencies with the other Commissioners.