Sunday

29th May 2022

EU smoke & mirrors

  • Dalli (l) says he was forced to resign in the big tobacco affair (Photo: EUobserver)

When European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso gave his farewell speech to MEPs after 10 years in office he said his proudest moment was when he picked up the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2012 on behalf of the EU.

But just two months earlier he had faced what was arguably his biggest embarrassment: 'Dalligate'.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The term refers to the tobacco lobbying scandal surrounding Barroso's former health commissioner, John Dalli.

Barroso, in a fateful meeting with Dalli on 16 October, told him there was "circumstantial" evidence that he had solicited a bribe and that the Maltese politician was "politically untenable".

By his own admission, later in an EU court, Barroso feared the issue could become a new 'Santer affair' - when, in 1999, a corruption fiasco forced the whole commission to resign.

Did Dalli jump out of his post? Was he pushed?

Did he try to shake down tobacco firms in return for unlocking a new EU market worth half a billion euros a year?

Or did big tobacco, and its friends inside the EU, orchestrate Dalli's downfall to sabotage his "tough" anti-tobacco law?

The events involve: EU officials-turned-tobacco-lobbyists; newly-leaked emails and EU files; a $100 million charity in the Bahamas; and ongoing Maltese and EU court cases which could end in millions of euros of damages or years in jail.

In a series of eight articles, EUobserver reporter Nikolaj Nielsen takes a closer look at events which, in the words of one MEP, will haunt Brussels for the next 10 years to come.

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".

Scant evidence EU tobacco deal curbed smuggling

A ‘landmark’ agreement with tobacco company PMI was supposed to bring down cigarette smuggling. But it is very difficult to estimate the success of the deal, which is up for renewal in 2016.

EU court dismisses Dalli case

A former EU health commissioner, accused of soliciting bribes from a tobacco firm, lost his case against the European Commission for unlawful dismissal.

Part III: Actors assemble for EU melodrama

The new EU health commissioner’s first known contact with a tobacco lobbyist was on 20 August 2010 at the five-star Kempinski Hotel on the Maltese island of Gozo.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us