MEPs want inquiry into EU tobacco scandal

January 9, 2013

Leading lawmakers from Europe's Greens called Wednesday for an inquiry into a tobacco lobby scandal that cost the bloc's top health official his job late last year.

French MEP Jose Bove and Belgian Bart Staes demanded "a special committee of inquiry" in the , saying "European institutions failed to meet their obligations" of transparency regarding a tobacco-linked against former health commissioner John Dalli.

Dalli resigned late October after being cited in a report from the EU fraud office OLAF.

He has repeatedly claimed he was innocent and the victim of a plot hatched as he prepared to toughen up the European Union's anti-smoking legislation.

"We don't understand what happened," Bove said, adding that "the industry won time" with Dalli's removal. "There'll be no new European law before 2015," he said. "The situation is unacceptable."

The two lawmakers also said two top European Commission officials, including its secretary-general Catherine Day, each met three times in 2012 with a Swedish tobacco-maker, US tobacco giant Philip Morris and European lobbyists.

Bove said Day had "delayed" the release of Dalli's proposed new anti-smoking legislation.

"We want the confidentiality of the entire inquiry regarding the Dalli affair lifted so that parliament has the right to see what really went on," said Staes.

"All the agreements concluded between European commissioners and lobbyists must be examined to see if the rules are sufficiently strict," Staes added. "Ethical rules must be reinforced."

The MEPs added that neither Dalli nor the parliament had been given the chance to read the OLAF report as it had been sent on immediately to the Maltese judicial authorities for possible action.

They also queried the Commmission's controversial reappointment in December of a tobacco lobbyist to its ethics committee.

French lawyer Michel Petite, whose Clifford Chance firm numbers Philip Morris among clients, was named for a new period on the three-man ethics board that advises the EU executive on whether former commissioners can join private companies in the same sector as their former portfolios.

But in September 2011 and in September 2012 he met officials of the Commission's legal service.

A document obtained by AFP that the Commission gave the parliament's budget committee states that "Mr Petite mentioned that his law firm provided legal advice to a tobacco company (Philip Morris International) and set out his views on some legal issues of legislation."

In 2010, the three-person ethics panel had no problems with former industry commissioner Guenther Verheugen launching a lobby firm two months after quitting.

The panel also famously agreed to former internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy, whose portfolio involved transport, going to work for Ryanair, and for ex-fisheries commissioner Joe Borg to join a firm that lobbies the EU on maritime policy.

Explore further: EU ex-health commissioner to challenge ouster

Related Stories

EU ex-health commissioner to challenge ouster

October 24, 2012

Former EU health commissioner John Dalli on Wednesday vowed to issue a legal challenge to Brussels following his forced resignation over a tobacco-linked influence-peddling fraud probe.

Swedish Match says EU bribes totalled 60 million euros

October 19, 2012

Tobacco producer Swedish Match claimed Friday it was offered the opportunity to pay 60 million euros ($78 million) to thwart new EU tobacco legislation in a scandal that has cost Europe's top health official his job.

EU health chief resigns in corruption scandal

October 16, 2012

(AP)—The European Union's health commissioner resigned Tuesday over corruption allegations involving tobacco laws but has denied any wrongdoing and has vowed to clear his name.

Recommended for you

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017

(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Study shows blood products unaffected by drone trips

December 7, 2016

In what is believed to be the first proof-of-concept study of its kind, Johns Hopkins researchers have determined that large bags of blood products, such as those transfused into patients every day, can maintain temperature ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.