The resignation of John Dalli, former European commissioner for health and consumer policy, remains shrouded in mystery – and MEPs are becoming increasingly restive about the continued lack of clarity.
Ingeborg Grässle, a centre-right German MEP who is leading an investigation by the budgetary-control committee, is not satisfied by a letter from the supervisory board of OLAF, the EU's anti-fraud office, which led the Dalli probe. The letter suggested procedural inadequacies in the committee's supervision of the OLAF investigation, but gave no specific details. Nor have the reasons been disclosed for the resignation of the head of OLAF's advisory board just days after Dalli's forced departure. And despite 154 questions from MEPs, no precise information has yet been provided on the trangressions that justified the Commission's insistence that Dalli (pictured below) should go.
“Up until now there has been no clear evidence that Dalli did something wrong,” said Richard Seeber, a centre-right Austrian MEP, on Tuesday (18 December). MEPs are insisting that it needs to be clear when a commissioner has to resign, and when not.
A report from Corporate Europe Observatory last week concluded that if Dalli's infraction of the rules was not declaring meetings with tobacco lobbyists – a violation of an international World Health Organization convention – then several other high-ranking Commission officials are also guilty, including members of the private office of Commission President José Manuel Barroso. A Commission spokesperson said the meetings cited by the campaigning group had “been handled properly, in accordance with the rules applicable, and we have been transparent about them”.
Dalli yesterday (19 December) took legal action against tobacco company Swedish Match, which brought its suspicions of misconduct to OLAF. He has filed a complaint for defamation in the Court of First Instance, in Belgium.