16 / 10 /2012
John Dalli, the Maltese member of the European Commission, has resigned with immediate effect as the European commissioner for health and consumer policy.
The European Commission this afternoon released a statement saying that the Maltese commissioner had resigned following an investigation by OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office. OLAF was investigating a complaint made in May by Swedish Match, a tobacco firm, which alleged that a Maltese entrepreneur used his contacts with Dalli “to try to gain financial advantages from the company in return for seeking to influence a possible future legislative proposal on tobacco products, in particular on the EU export ban on snus”.
The statement said that the OLAF report, which was sent to the Commission yesterday (15 October) “found that the Maltese entrepreneur had approached the company using his contacts with Mr Dalli and sought to gain financial advantages in exchange for influence over a possible future legislative proposal on snus”.
The statement goes on: “No transaction was concluded between the company and the entrepreneur and no payment was made. The OLAF report did not find any conclusive evidence of the direct participation of Mr Dalli but did consider that he was aware of these events.”
Dalli, who held the posts of foreign minister and finance minister in centre-right Nationalist governments in Malta, rejects the allegations against him.
His resignation is the first by an individual commissioner for reasons of impropriety (others have resigned early, to take up ministerial appointments, for example). The Santer Commission resigned in 1999 en masse after Edith Cresson, who was tainted by nepotism allegations, could not be persuaded to resign individually. Reforms made since then make it easier for the president to exact an individual commissioner’s resignation.
José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, said that Maroš Šefcovic, who is the European commissioner for inter-institutional relations and administration, will take over Dalli’s portfolio until a new commissioner is chosen. The replacement will be nominated by the Maltese government, and will face a hearing before the European Parliament, before the appointment is approved by the Council.