Tuesday

7th Jul 2020

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 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

MEP in police protection after Czech PM calls him 'traitor'

Three MEPs received numerous death threats in the Czech Republic for asking questions about how EU funds are being spent. One of them had his entire family under police protection after people threatened to murder his four children.

Black MEP: 'I have been a victim of police violence'

MEPs urged an end to structural racism and discrimination in Europe and the US, following the brutal killing of black American George Floyd by US police. Socialists and Green MEPs stressed the need to unblock the anti-discrimination directive.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us