Sunday

24th Mar 2019

EU commissioner resigns in tobacco-lobby dispute

  • The Maltese official denies any wrongdoing (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

EU health commissioner John Dalli has resigned "to defend his reputation" in a dispute on tobacco lobbying.

The European Commission said its top Maltese official stepped down on Tuesday (16 October) after his boss, Jose Manuel Barroso, told him that Olaf, the EU's anti-fraud office, had filed a report on him on Monday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The case concerns Swedish Match, a Stockholm-based firm which produces snus, a mouth tobacco.

Swedish Match complained to Brussels in May that a "Maltese entrepreneur" had asked it for money in return for using "his contacts" with Dalli to influence an EU ban on snus exports.

Olaf said "no payment was made" and that it "did not find any conclusive evidence of the direct participation of Mr Dalli."

But it "did consider that he was aware of these events."

The commission noted that Dalli "categorically rejects these findings."

It added the Olaf report has been sent to the attorney general of Malta and the Maltese judiciary will decide whether to follow up.

Internal affairs commissioner Maros Sefcovic is to take over Dalli's job for the time being.

But Maltese press reports the country's foreign minister, Tonio Borg, or its former EU ambassador, Richard Cachia Caruana, might take over in the long run.

The Brussels-based NGO, Corporate Europe Observatory, says the EU capital is a theatre of intense lobbying over the final shape of a new directive on tobacco products due to be published later this year.

Ideas include a ban on point-of-sale advertising in shops - a proposal currently being fought by the London-based PR firm Luther Pendragon and CEDT, the tobacco retailers' trade body.

Back in Malta, the news of Dalli's resignation was greeted by national media with little surprise.

Dalli in 2004 stepped down as Maltese foreign minister after allegations - later judged false - that a firm controlled by his contacts was selling airline tickets to diplomats.

Back in the 1990s, he faced accusations of corruption over the sale of Mid-Med Bank for a tiny sum to foreign buyers.

EU commissioner goes off-message on Gaddafi

Maltese EU commissioner John Dalli has made comments which appear to support Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi and which flatly contradict those of Mr Dalli's boss, Jose Manuel Barroso.

Asylum seeker beaten to death in Malta

An asylum seeker beaten to death in Malta over the weekend has highlighted the country’s poor reception conditions for migrants.

Football diplomacy comes to Malta

As South Africa gets ready for the World Cup in June, the EU's smallest country, Malta, is planning to host a potentially controversial tournament for football teams from unrecognised entities.

EU commissioner pleads innocence

The EU health commissioner at the centre of a tobacco lobbying scandal has spoken out to newspapers and on TV to protest his innocence.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us