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EU Ombudsman to investigate EC contacts with tobacco lobbyists

The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has confirmed that she will investigate the European Commission's failure to properly implement UN rules for contacts with tobacco lobbyists, following a complaint submitted by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO).

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
2 July 2014, 12:07pm
CEO says that at least 14 undisclosed meetings involving top Commission officials from the Secretariat-General and members of Commission President Barroso's cabinet took place.
CEO says that at least 14 undisclosed meetings involving top Commission officials from the Secretariat-General and members of Commission President Barroso's cabinet took place.
Transparency NGO Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has announced that European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly, will investigate the European Commission's failure to properly implement UN rules for contacts with tobacco lobbyists.

The EU is a signatory to the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which obliges governments to limit interactions with the tobacco industry and ensure the transparency of those interactions that occur.

CEO said that in the last years, European Commission officials had numerous meetings with tobacco industry lobbyists wanting to influence the EU's Tobacco Products Directive.

"Many of these meetings were not disclosed online. This includes, as CEO's complaint shows, at least 14 undisclosed meetings involving top Commission officials from the Secretariat-General and members of Commission President Barroso's cabinet. The European Commission claims its approach is 'compatible' with the WHO rules, but CEO's complaint argues that the Commission is violating its UN obligations," CEO said on its website.

The European Ombudsman has written to outgong Commission President José Manuel Barroso, asking him to respond to the allegation that the Commission has failed to properly implement Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the accompanying guidelines.

Barroso is also asked to respond to the suggestions put forward in CEO's complaint that the Commission should: undertake a thorough assessment of how to implement the WHO Convention rules across all of its departments; publish online lists of all meetings with tobacco industry representatives and minutes of such meetings; implement a code of conduct on relations with the tobacco industry; and ensure registration and disclosure of the identity and activities of tobacco industry lobbyists via the EU's Transparency Register

Commission President Barroso has until 30 September to respond.

The controversial Tobacco Products Directive was the backdrop to allegations that former European health and consumer affairs commissioner John Dalli was aware of a bribe to reverse a retail ban on snus. He resigned on 16 October 2012, but claimed unfair dismissal.

EC president José Barroso will be replying to the allegations in the European Court of Justice, in Luxembourg, next week, in the case of unfair dismissal filed by John Dalli.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.