Wednesday

19th Jun 2019

Dalligate: EU anti-fraud chief leaves MEPs confused

  • Kessler cited confidentiality rules: 'I can't give you the facts' (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

MEPs want more information on the Dalli affair after a damp squib hearing with the chief of the EU's anti-fraud office, Olaf.

German Liberal deputy Michael Theurer, the chairman of the budgetary control committee, told EUobserver on Thursday (25 October) that a behind-closed-doors meeting with Olaf's Giovanni Kessler failed to clear up if ex-health commissioner John Dalli acted wrongly or why a top Olaf official has suddenly resigned.

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

He said parliament chiefs should ask European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to hand over the Olaf report or to come and answer questions himself.

"I think we have to put the question to the President of the commission and then I'm confident there can be found an appropriate way for the European Commission to inform parliament," he noted.

"We need to have a full insight into what happened. We could see the written report - that would be one thing - and if there is any evidence that we should investigate further, then there are different options ... parliament could set up an investigative committee," he added.

Dalli lost his job last week after Olaf gave Barroso what it calls "circumstantial evidence" that he tried to solicit a bribe from a tobacco firm.

In the latest twist in the story, Olaf supervisory board President Christian Timmermans this week resigned from his post. But it is unclear whether this is linked to institutional infighting or to the Dalli case as such.

A source present at the Kessler meeting told this website that he gave the MEPs hints on what the report contains but cited confidentiality rules to stop short of real answers.

The source noted: "He [Kessler] said: 'Imagine if I met my friend [a middleman] and some lobbyists in my flat. How would you feel about it?' But he phrased it in a very hypothetical way. We asked him: 'So what are the facts?' And he said: 'I can't give you the facts'."

Kessler also said Timmermans' resignation is linked to complaints that circulation of the Olaf report did not follow correct procedure. But he added that it "has nothing to do with Dalli."

For his part, EU parliament chief Martin Schulz is planning to send a letter to Barroso asking for more information.

Its content is to become clear after he meets with the heads of parliament political groups on Friday.

Asked by EUobserver whether Schulz' old political group, the centre-left S&D, would support a request for Barroso to answer MEPs' questions directly, an S&D spokeswoman said: "There must be a general clarification and it must come from Kessler and Barroso himself."

The last time Barroso faced a public grilling on corruption was back in 2005 over his own connections to a Greek shipowner.

On the commission side, spokesman Olivier Bailly on Thursday in Brussels noted that Malta, Dalli's home country, and the other 26 member states are "ready" to back his replacement by Maltese foreign minister Tonio Borg.

He said the member states' backing is a sign they "accept" that the commission has handled the affair properly.

Borg also has to get clearance from MEPs.

But with the health portfolio covering areas such as stem cell research and abortion, his Roman Catholic views could see him come a cropper in parliament hearings.

"We intend to question him closely on whether his views are compatible with Europe's fundamental values on civil liberties and non-discrimination," S&D chief, Austrian MEP Hannes Swoboda said in a statement.

News in Brief

  1. New socialist group leader to push for Timmermans
  2. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  3. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  4. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  5. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  6. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  7. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  8. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July

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 MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction
  2. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  3. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  4. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  5. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  6. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  7. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  8. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us