Sunday

26th Mar 2017

EU court dismisses Dalli case

  • Dalli at the European Court of Justice last year (Photo: EUobserver)

A former EU health commissioner, accused of soliciting bribes from mouth tobacco maker Swedish Match, lost his case against the European Commission for unlawful dismissal.

Judges on Tuesday (12 May) dismissed the case brought before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg by John Dalli in December 2012. The General Court ruled that "Dalli resigned voluntarily".

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 Maltese national said he was forced out of office on 16 October 2012 following allegations he helped broker a deal to water down EU-wide tobacco legislation in exchange for €60 million.

The scandal erupted after the European Commission, headed at the time by Jose Manual Barroso, announced to press that Dalli had agreed to resign of his own his will. Barroso said Dalli had become “politically untenable” and had to go.

But Dalli, who has always maintained his innocence, said he was forced to resign, not given the opportunity to study the charges brought against him by the EU's anti-fraud office Olaf, and unable to defend himself as a result.

“I asked him [Barroso] to give me the possibility to consult a lawyer, to get some sort of legal advice … I asked for 24 hours. He looked at his watch and he said ‘I’ll give you 30 minutes’,” Dalli told a panel of five judges at the Luxembourg-based court last July.

The €60 million deal to lift the sale ban on Swedish Match’s flagship product snus did not take place.

But Olaf linked Dalli with a local middleman who solicited the bribe from the Swedish mouth tobacco producer.

Olaf’s five-month probe based the accusations “on unambiguous and converging circumstantial evidence”.

The lack of explicit evidence, coupled with the anti-fraud office’s questionable investigative practices, soon attracted broad criticism from transparency NGOs and leading MEPs in the parliament’s budgetary control committee.

Olaf has since been accused of illegal wiretapping.

The allegations took a more serious turn when Belgian prosecutors issued a request to suspend the diplomatic immunity of senior Olaf officials implicated in the affair, reported the Sunday Times over the weekend.

Dalli has since returned to Malta, where the drama continues to play out in national media and courts.

Investigation

EU smoke & mirrors

EUobserver reporter Nikolaj Nielsen sheds new light on the Dalli lobbying scandal, which, by Barroso's own admission, threatened to bring down the EU executive, but which is not over yet.

Analysis

More hype than substance in EU counter-terror plans

The 22 March anniversary of the Brussels bombing will trigger a lot of soul searching. But EU counter-terrorism strategies over the past 10 years have been crisis-driven with little follow through or oversight.

LuxLeaks whistleblowers sentenced again

PwC employees Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet, who revealed how multinational companies dodged taxes through deals in Luxembourg, were given reduced sentences.

EU lawmakers tighten firearm rules

The EU parliament backed a provisional deal with member states to tighten EU gun laws. EU states now have to formally adopt their position before the new legislation is enacted.

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