European Greens on Dalligate – Barroso must now explain

Green MEPs say collusion between Philip Morris lobbyist Michel Petite and EC secretary-general Catherine Day ‘unacceptable’

Green MEP José Bové (right) with John Dalli
Green MEP José Bové (right) with John Dalli

Green MEPs José Bové and Bart Staes have called on European Commission President José Barroso to exaplin the reasons behind the dismissal of John Dalli from the EC, in the wake of a leaked report on the OLAF investigation that found no direct evidence of the former commissioner's involvement in an alleged bribe.

The report was published by MaltaToday on Sunday, although two of its pages and a three-page interview with the EC's 'Sanco' health director-general Paola Testori Coggi are missing.

"This report clearly shows that the OLAF investigation was unable to provide conclusive evidence of the direct involvement of the former European Commissioner John Dalli in the attempt to influence a bribe," the two MEPs said in a statement.

Dalli was accused by OLAF director Giovanni Kessler of having been aware, going by circumstantial evidence of telephone toll records, that Silvio Zammit, a canvasser, was using the commissioner's name to solicit a €60 million bribe from Swedish Match to influence the reversal of a trading ban.

Bart Staes, vice-president of the budgetary control committee, said the OLAF report could not be described as an impartial report. "By reading this document... and the annual report of the Supervisory Committee, the relevance of the accusations of the SC, which stated that the OLAF investigation used non-compliant methods and did  not respect fundamental rights, were clear," Staes said.

The MEP has asked that the members of the budgetary control committee to have access to the Supervisory Committee's opinion on the Dalli investigation, which Staes said "evaluates the failure of OLAF and director Giovanni Kessler."

Staes also pointed out that the OLAF report had shown "an unacceptable collusion" between Swedish Match, lobbyist and former head of the Council's legal services Michel Petite,  and Catherine Day, secretary-general of the European Commission.

Petite, a lobbyist for Clifford Chance who represents Philip Morris - Swedish Match's American partners - was the first to learn of a recording that Swedish Match's lobby ESTOC, had of a conversation in which Silvio Zammit floats the price of €10 million to broker a meeting with Dalli: he then communicated with Catherine Day about the matter before Swedish Match filed its official complaint on 21 May 2012.

Bové, vice-chairman of the agricultural and rural development committee, said the OLAF report had shown that the accusations against Dalli were not based on facts. "Bypassing the supervisory committee, Barroso did not comply with the rules of our instiutions. It is now essential that he takes responsibility for these shortcomings."

Bové said that after his request for a special commission on the Dalligate case was turned down by other European Parliament leaders, he was now asking European Parliament president Martin Schulz "to propose a solution to find a way out of this major crisis."

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in my opinion both Baroso and Kessler should resign for mishandling the whole thing.
Barrosso can't explain without incriminating himself.