Sunday

16th Jun 2019

Dalli lawyers say Barroso trampled his rights

  • Dalli at the Luxembourg court (Photo: EUobserver)

In the second and final day of a public hearing in the John Dalli vs. the European Commission case at the EU Court in Luxembourg, lawyers traded barbs about the legal basis on which the former commissioner left his job in disgrace in 2012.

Dalli says European Commission boss Jose Manuel Barroso pressured him into tendering his resignation, wants the court to annul it, and is seeking €1.9 million in “material damages” amid broader allegations he solicited bribes from the tobacco industry.

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 money includes lost wages for the remainder of his term as commissioner.

His lawyers on Tuesday (8 July) said he was left no option but to resign, and that his fundamental right for a fair hearing was violated.

They say commission Barroso arranged a meeting on 16 October 2012 with the pre-meditated decision to get rid Dalli regardless of what Dalli said.

“He [Dalli] was facing a fait accompli,” Dalli’s lawyer told the panel of five judges.

They said Dalli went into the meeting with no knowledge of Barroso’s intentions, and that he had no opportunity to contest the tobacco graft allegations outlined in a report given to Barroso by the EU’s anti-fraud office, Olaf.

Dalli’s lawyers noted that Barroso should have invoked his EU treaty powers instead of psychological pressure if he wanted to make him leave.

But Barroso’s attorneys said the commission chief didn’t have to make reference to the treaty because Dalli resigned of his own free will without any coercion.

The niceties of Dalli’s departure are important in political and legal terms.

On a political level, a voluntary resignation has fewer reputational implications than a forced resignation.

On a legal level, a forced resignation requires the president to invoke article 17.6 in the treaty on the European Union.

The article states “a member of the Commission shall resign if the President so requests.”

Because Barroso did not invoke or make reference to the article, then the resignation is not valid, say Dalli’s side.

Dalli’s lawyers also noted that Olaf did not followed internal rules of procedure when it forwarded its report to the Maltese authorities without allowing the Olaf supervisory committee enough time review their investigation.

The supervisory committee was given one day to look at Olaf’s probe into Dalli.

It is supposed to have five days, and the committee, in an review published later, found major flaws.

Barroso should have asked himself if Olaf had conducted its investigation properly beforehand, say Dalli’s lawyers.

The commission had also prepared two draft press releases announcing Dalli’s resignation.

One, which was issued to the public, said he left office voluntarily. A second, which was not released, said he was forced to resign.

Dalli’s lawyers say the fact the commission had not prepared a third release contesting the Olaf allegations suggest Barroso had no other intention but to force him out.

The European Commission, for its part, dismissed all the arguments.

They said the commission has no legal right to approach the supervisory committee or contest Olaf in order to respect their full independence.

They also noted the committee’s five day review period is an informal agreement with Olaf and therefore has no legal bearing.

The commission lawyers said no third press release was prepared to defend Dalli because there is little news value in informing journalists that a commissioner had not left his post.

They added that Dalli was fully aware of the issues at hand when he met Barroso.

They point out Dalli had been interviewed twice by Olaf and spoken to Barroso once about the events over the course of several months from the launch of the investigation in May.

The commission, for its part, wants Dalli to drop the legal action and pay all associated legal costs.

A verdict is expected six to nine months down the line.

Malta's ex-commissioner loses court case against EU

John Dalli was ousted as European Commissioner for health in 2012 over a tobacco-lobbying scandal. On Thursday, the general court of the European Union dismissed his case against the European Commission.

New 'ID' far-right EU parliament group falls short

The new far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) political group fails to muster enough support among other eurosceptics to become a heavyweight in the European Parliament. But with 73 MEPs, from nine EU states, it managed to secure the fifth spot.

Analysis

Sibiu: EU leaders prepare post-Brexit show of unity

With the European elections just three weeks away, the EU-27 will try to set the agenda for the next years for the EU institutions. But with persisting divisions on key issues, unity will be an achievement in itself.

Exclusive

Ombudsman backs EUobserver on MEP expenses

The European Parliament should have granted access to documents on a decision about how transparent MEPs should be in future with their office expenses, says EU Ombudsman.

News in Brief

  1. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds
  2. EU ups US imports in beef deal
  3. Unicef: UK among 'least family-friendly' in Europe
  4. Czech PM: No joint 'V4' candidate in commission race
  5. Johnson tops first round to replace May, three eliminated
  6. Bratislava will host new European Labour Authority
  7. Juncker cautions against further climate goals
  8. Study: Counterfeit medicine is a 'growing threat' in EU

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. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  2. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  3. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  4. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  5. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  6. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC
  7. Europe's oil supplies 'at risk' after tanker attacks
  8. EU paths fork for Albania and North Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us