Sunday

18th Feb 2018

Greek EU commissioner challenges bribery allegations

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration, will mount a legal challenge over allegations he took bribes to help secure a lucrative contract for pharmaceutical company Novartis whilst a Greek minister.

The allegations, announced earlier this week by Greek prosecutors, stem from his time as minister of health in Athens between 2006 and 2009.

Avramopoulos was named along with a handful of former ministers, including two past prime ministers, for having taken a reported €50m in bribes from the Swiss drug giant.

On Friday (9 February), Avramopoulos announced he would take legal recourse to lift the anonymity of people behind the allegations, describing them as slanderous and without basis.

"This case does not touch me, does not relate to me," he was cited as saying in Greek media outlet Ekathimerini.

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras appears to have also stepped into the foray.

His spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said Tsipras would be recommending that a parliament committee probe the claims.

The European Commission has declined to discuss the case openly, noting instead earlier this week that it had "nothing more to add" than what Avramopoulos had already said.

Trials and tribulations

But the potential fallout will likely have commission president Jean-Claude Juncker paying close attention.

The commission had barely managed to contain a scandal after German EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger had made racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks only to later fly on a German pro-Russia lobbyist's private jet to Hungary.

Those embarrassments were more or less swept away given that Oettinger was then handed the powerful budget commissioner portfolio, a step up from his previous post under Juncker as digital economy chief.

The scope of the budget commission tasks includes making sure EU officials behave well.

Juncker's predecessor as president Jose Manuel Barroso also had his own scandal.

In October 2012, he fired the Maltese commissioner for health John Dalli following "unambiguous and converging circumstantial evidence" of an attempted bribe.

The Dalli case stemmed from a five-month investigation by the EU's anti-fraud office Olaf, which had later come under fire given charges of illegal wire-tapping.

Barroso at the time said he had to relieve Dalli because he had become politically untenable.

Investigation

Part I: From Peppi’s to Barroso’s

Part I of VIII: EUobserver takes a closer look at the Barroso commission's biggest scandal - tobacco lobbying and John Dalli - in events some say will haunt the EU "for the next 10 years".

Rights watchdog to visit Turkey over rule of law

The Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, is heading to Ankara next week. The trip follows new plans by Ankara to meet EU demands for reforms in areas like anti-terror legislation.

Data privacy chiefs wary of lagging EU states

EU data protection chiefs are worried member states won't be ready when a new wide-sweeping general data protection regulation goes live on 25 May. National laws still need to be passed to ensure data authorities can enforce the regulation EU-wide.

Greek EU commissioner challenges bribery allegations

Dimitris Avramopoulos says he will mount a legal challenge to reveal the identities of people behind allegations that he, along with other former Greek ministers, had accepted money from a Swiss pharmaceutical giant.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Nord Stream 2 pipeline poses 'no danger'
  2. Spanish king in Barcelona next week
  3. Turkey jails journalists for life
  4. Make budget cuts in farm and regional funds, the Dutch say
  5. UN: Hungary's anti-migration bill is 'assault on human rights'
  6. Journalist Deniz Yucel freed in Turkey
  7. New organic farming bill not ready until late spring
  8. Commissioner: Western Balkans in EU is 'obvious'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAA year ago UNESDA members pledged to reduce added sugars in soft drinks by 10%
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  3. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  4. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  5. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  7. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  8. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  9. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  10. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  12. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health

Latest News

  1. EU asks charities to explain anti-abuse measures
  2. ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK
  3. EU states stay mute on implementation of mercury bill
  4. Baltic states demand bigger EU budget
  5. Germany raises concerns over Hungary's 'Stop Soros' bills
  6. EU ties Brexit transition talks to divorce agreement
  7. EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement
  8. Facebook and Twitter weak on protecting users, says EU