Monday

27th Mar 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  2. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  3. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  5. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  6. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  7. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  9. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  10. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  11. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change