The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

Updated: Helena Dalli secures two-thirds majority required for her EC nomination

Jeremy Micallef Wednesday, 2 October 2019, 10:13 Last update: about 3 years ago

 

Helena Dalli has been given the green light to serve as Malta's next European Commissioner after she secured the two-thirds of votes necessary to confirm her nomination as equality commissioner.

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The vote came after a three-hour grilling in Brussels during which Dalli gave a solid performance on issues related to her portfolio. Dalli, however, was also asked about the Panama Papers and Konrad Mizzi, telling MEPs that she "would have done things differently."

According to reports, Dalli managed to secure the support of the five main political groups, including the Socialists and the European People's Party which, however, has raised some concerns.

With the procedure used, the lead MEPs participating from each of the committees participating vote on the candidate after the grilling send their decision in writing to the Conference of Committee Chairs.

It is understood that, in its letter, the EPP will highlight issues that were not sufficiently covered but it is believed that this will not have an impact on the overall assessment. 

Dalli is expected to be officially approved, along with the rest of the new European Commissioners, on 24 October, in Strasbourg.

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Earlier

 

5.13pm: In her closing remarks, Dalli made a personal observation. She spoke of her visits to nurseries and kindergardens and how should would notice the children not discriminating against each other.

“Children teach us the meaning of unconditional love.

“Discrimination is learnt later on in life, and we must work to remove this.

“We are stronger together as a union of member states as we are as diverse societies.

 

“Love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

5.06pm: Queried on issues pertaining to the Roma communities, Dalli notes that they are the most discriminated against group in Europe.

She said that the 2020 framework will have anti-gypsyism built into it.

4.55pm: At this point, many of the questions Dalli is being asked are rehashed versions of each other revolving around general issues of gender equality and disabilities.

Not one question on issues unique to men such as the disproportionate suicide rate and workplace deaths, or the physical violence and online abuse they are on the receiving end of.

4.39pm: PL MEP Alex Agius Saliba said that Dalli brought about a social revolution back in Malta, and asked whether the Work Life Balance Directive should be expanded to include adoptive parents.

She replied by saying that the focus should be on implementation within three years within member states, after which the review claus in the directive would be used to see whether the rights mentioned by Agius Saliba could be included.

Dalli answers to his follow-up question on disability issues by saying that they will be evaluating the related strategy to see if it can be improved.

4.23pm: Dalli is once again taken to task on the fact that the masterminds behind the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia are not yet identified.

The question posed by the MEP focused on the glass ceiling for women.

She points to her previous comments on the DCG case, and, on the glass ceiling, she says that stereotypes should be removed, and said that it was she who promoted and proposed related material to the United Nations.

4.17pm: One MEP asks Dalli on attacks on Christians, who she said are often attacked by those who claim equality and discrimination – “how will you protect them?”

Dalli says that she will look to unblock the Anti-Discrimination Directive to protect all people who are discriminated against.

“It is also important to have strong equality bodies in member states to be able to work on various discriminations which happen in our societies.”

4.09pm: Dalli is asked whether she will use her veto power on issues that do not properly protect the principles of equal opportunities and equality, to which she says that she would use “everything in her power” to ensure this in the disability sector.

4.05pm: On the Istanbul Convention, she is queried on the member states which are resisting it, and whether an EU Directive is being looked into to push it through.

Dalli said that she will speak with member states and visit capitals to understand the resistance to it.

She also allures to getting the European Union to ratifying the convention.

4.02pm: Asked on tackling hate speech online and offline, she notes that such behaviour may keep people offline and keep women away from going into artificial intelligence and I.T.

3.59pm: Dalli is asked on Disability issues and she responds by maintaining that she will always listen to what is needed in this sector.

She also calls for the unblocking of the Equal Treatment Directive.

“This is an important area of policy and a lot needs to be done.”

3.47pm: Casa’s follow-up question revolved on the Panama Papers.

“In my political life, I have always worked for good governance, rule of law, democracy – in favour of fundamental values and democracy,” she said.

“You know my credentials very well,” she told Casa.

3.42pm: The first round of questions is now over, and the first person to go on questioning Dalli is Maltese PN MEP David Casa who asks on the Work Life  Balance Directive.

She says that if she accepted as Commissioner she would help member states implement this directive, and is “committed to bringing it forward because she would like to see it put into practice”.

3.33pm: Answering the follow-up question on gender stereotyping and forced marriages, she notes that gender stereotyping will be in her gender strategy and that the Work-Life Directive will also help in this regard.

Time ran out before she could answer on forced marriages.

3.30pm: Dalli is once again asked on abortion, queried on whether she will allow member states to legislate on their own when it comes to values and health.

She is further asked on the issue of FGM and forced marriages.

She responds by saying that she will respect the member states’ authority in this area, whilst pointing the finger at the Patriarchy for the issue of FGM.

“There can be laws in place, but sometimes things are happening which we are not understand, but if we observe and ask questions we see that this is going on.”

3.25pm: Following up on the previous question, she is asked on the issue of trans-women in sport and whether this actually helps biological women.

Dalli dodges the question by asking for “some respect to people who need us to help them” to applause from the room.

3.20pm: The next person to pose a question asks whether Dalli agrees with the self-determination of gender identity solely on the basis of said self-determination.

The Commissioner-Designate said that she had passed that very policy in Malta, where the only procedure one needed to undergo was to simply get a form signed by a Notary.

3.11pm: The next question revolved on abortion in Malta, she is asked what three steps she will take to make reproductive rights more accessible in the future.

“You have my word that I will do all possible in order to do SRHR. I will work with the task force to mainstream SRHR,” Dalli says without mentioning abortion itself.

3.10pm: The next question revolved on abortion in Malta, she is asked what three steps she will take to make reproductive rights more accessible in the future.

3.03pm: In a follow up question, she is asked about the Gender Equality strategy she mentioned in her introductory remarks.

Dalli explained that the strategy will contain pay transparency, gender participation, gender pay gap, gender stereotypes – “it is pointless legislating unless we change attitudes and cultures,” she points out.

3.00pm: Dalli is questioned on her satisfaction with regards to the progress of the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and whether she would do anything as Commissioner in that regard.

She said that extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures, whilst noting that foreign law enforcement had gone to Malta to train Maltese authorities.

Dalli went on to point out that three individuals had been arrested

She said that she will do everything in her power to guarantee freedom of the press from intimidation.

Asked about the mentioning of Minister Konrad Mizzi in the Panama Papers, Dalli said she would have done things differently. Throughout my career, she said, she always stood up for good governance and the rule of law. She said she also pushed for the introduction of a Commissioner for Standards in Public Life.

2.58pm: The room applauded Dalli’s incredulity and criticism at the slow progress on various issues related to equality.

The hearing has now moved onto the questions phase.

2.55pm: She said that she will implement a new Gender strategy, and that in the first 100 days she will push forward issues of pay transparency.

2.50pm: Dalli maintained that as a commissioner, she will work with members states to convince them that taking action at EU level is needed.

The ex-Minister for Equality then went on to list off various statistics to prove her point, and insisted that she will make the fight for inclusion in the EU her fight, whilst using every tool at her disposal to strengthen equality.

2.48pm: “All my life I have done anything and everything in my power to improve the lives of citizens,” she said, going on to talk about her idealism as a younger person, and that many years later “the fight is far from over”.

She said that real change is only possible if they, the politicians, make changes at every level.

2.44pm: Commissioner-Designate Helena Dalli begins her opening remarks in Maltese, before switching to English to explain why she wants to achieve if she is accepted as commissioner, and that “equality is an infinite resource” and that “discrimination is a wasteful practice”.

“If I have your support I am ready to work hard with the task force on equality that is purposely being set up on a permanent basis.”

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Following her nomination by the local Maltese government, ex-Minister for Equality Helena Dalli today will face a gruelling three-hour grilling session as one of her first public tests as Commissioner-Designate for Equality with the European Commission.

Along with 25 other nominees, members of 19 committees in the European Parliament will be asking at least 25 questions per hearing, amounting to a total of over 75 hours over the course of six non-consecutive days.

Parliament and MEPs will also have the ability to say no to not only the commissioners but their entire teams.

European Parliament spokesperson Jaume Duch Guillot spoke with Politico about the procedure, calling it “rather unique”, in that “most national parliaments only have the right to interrogate ministers once in position”.

Starting at 2:30 pm, Dalli will be grilled by the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) and Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) committees, with the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) committee also being invited to forward questions at their discretion.

She will have the opportunity to give a 15-minute introductory statement, following which she will be asked the 25 questions with the possibility of further follow-up questions being thrown her way.

At the end of the sessions, Dalli will be given five minutes to make closing remarks.

The lead MEPs participating from each of the committees participating will then vote on the candidate from which a two-thirds majority would be needed, and the decision is then sent in a letter to the Conference of Committee Chairs.

If this fails then MEPs will send her further written questions, and if the dissatisfaction persists, another hearing could be arranged.

No approval after a second hearing will lead to committees voting on the nominee with a simple majority required to pass.

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