The AFP news agency has accessed documents which reveal that the nomination of former Maltese foreign minister Tonio Borg, who is a well known Catholic conservative, has been approved by European lawmakers for the EU's top health job.
In a letter dated November 15 and addressed to European Parliament head Martin Schulz, German conservative MEP Klaus-Heiner Lehne who heads the assembly's committees, said Borg had received a "generally positive assessment."
MEPs noted his "general competence, European commitment, personal independence, knowledge of the prospective portfolio and cooperation with the European Parliament," the letter said.
Borg, named to replace John Dalli as health commissioner after his forced resignation last month over a tobacco-linked influence-peddling probe, is known for controversial statements on abortion and gay marriage.
On Tuesday he faced three hours of intense questioning by MEPs.
Queried over women's rights, Borg said he "would not abandon his personal views" but would respect the treaties.
He said he had personally supported a bill in Malta to recognise non-marital relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual, and pledged to back current proposals to increase the presence of women on boards.
The European Parliament will take up his nomination formally next week when it meets in Strasbourg.