Barroso to MEPs, no work on tobacco review until Borg is commissioner

European Greens’ leader Cohn-Bendit: ‘Barroso has been blocking tobacco law for several months inside Commission’

Daniel Cohn-Bendit (left) said there will be questions for José Barroso to answer.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit (left) said there will be questions for José Barroso to answer.

The co-chairman of the Greens in the European Parliament, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, today likened the resignation saga of John Dalli to a "detective novel", citing the influence of big tobacco and its "borderline" tactics behind the former commissioner's fall from grace.

"This is a very strange case which for the moment, doesn't seem clear to us," Cohn-Bendit said of the OLAF investigation into John Dalli, which the Green MEP said should be made public.

But the MEP also said that Commission president José Barroso will have some questions to answer from the Greens in the next meeting of the European Parliament, to explain Dalli's resignation. "We would also like to know why Mr Barroso is blocking the directive on tobacco and why he has been doing that for several months inside the Commission," Cohn-Bendit said.

Dalli resigned over allegations that there was circumstantial evidence that he was aware that a former canvasser had asked snus producers Swedish Match for €60 million to reverse a ban on the sale of the snus in the EU, in Dalli's upcoming review of the Tobacco Products Directive.

"You can say it's like a detective novel, like an investigation. When you take on big tobacco everything is possible - you know, large tobacco companies in the United States have practices which are more borderline, so in this case was Dalli pushed into a trap? Who is behind this trap? Or was he working alone? Both options are open at the moment.

"The story is very unclear and we will prepare our file with statements from various people and asking for more transparency from the Commission."

The European Commission will not hold any further discussion on the health and consumer policy portfolio previously held by John Dall until the formal appointment of Tonio Borg to the position, EC president José Barroso told MEPs in a letter.

Barroso, who is said by Dalli to have asked him to resign, told MEPs in a letter that he was currently discussing with vice-president Maros Sefcovic the "best way forward on the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive".

Concretely, this is likely to postpone to next year legislative proposals on tobacco products since it will not be until next month that Tonio Borg will be grilled by MEPs on his competence on health and consumer policy.

The Tobacco Products Directive which Dalli was reviewing including new, stricter packaging conditions that covered up to 75% of the surface area of cigarette packs with health warnings, as well as a complete ban on smokeless tobacco.

A day after Dalli's resignation, MEPs from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) called on Barroso to give them his assurance that the work on the tobacco directive will not be disrupted following Dalli's resignation, and that it will "contain strong public health measures, which will not be watered down and that you will be asking Commissioner Sefcovic to issue a clear timetable for the directive to be adopted by college by the end of the year."

Dalli himself warned the MEPs of the risks of further delays. In a letter dated 22 October, he explained that the proposal had already been seriously delayed compared to what was planned. According to Dalli, the proposal, which his services finalised in late February 2012, "was ready to be submitted to interservice consultation in late August 2012," but "this was stopped by the secretary-general and the legal services".

The consultation should have been re-launched in early October but it has once again been postponed to 22 October. "Now the commissioner is removed and the launching of the directive will probably be postponed again. If it is not launched in time for its conclusion during the term of this legislature, the tobacco directive will be derailed. I would like to ask you not to let this happen. Please insist with the Commission that this directive is launched as planned so that thousands of lives can be saved," the former commissioner said.

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I hope Simon Busuttil will do his duty when the time comes to grill Barroso, and not follow his party's orders to go easy! With BOV, at least, he is making some waves,and not following blindly his party line. I am sure the Labour MEPs', on behalf of all Maltese that want a cleaner SMOKE FREE life for future generations, will grill this fellow to a burnt BBQ colour.
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I would like to congratulate the Malta Today for being a professional independent newscaster and allowing pro and against remarks. Much more democratic than an institution that sacks anyone without the chance to defend the issue. Maybe the greens are on the right side of the picture but the large companies are very strong. Yes, I agree that it would be appropriate to investigate Barroso and Kessler because the shelving of the directive is a fact. Dalli was sacked on circumstantial evidence (no hard evidence) and on political grounds (Nothing illegal).
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..."We would also like to know why Mr Barroso is blocking the directive on tobacco and why he has been doing that for several months inside the Commission," Cohn-Bendit said..... If Barroso is such an honest Great Portuguese politician then why he didn't stay in his country to help his people get out of poverty? Two years ago I was there and all I could see were people begging for a couple of euros to have something to eat, something which in Malta has been eradicated some fourty years ago. Malta is just a little pebble,but is envied by the mountians. To a certain extent both political parties have tried their very best to better our standard of living. I must also admit that some were a thousand times better in doing this then some politicians. I am proud I didn't vote in favour of joining the EU. I still think that we should opt outttttttttttt. Did the advantages outweight the disadvantages??????
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Our MEP have the obligation to grill Barroso regarding this saga, and request an independent commission be set up so the truth will prevail. It seems more likely that he is the one who should have resigned not Mr.Dalli.
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As I said in another news item I am sure that Dalli was used as a scapegoat to derail the process and give more profitable time to the tobacco industry.There are higher members who will pocket the money that is being mentioned and from what the greens seem to imply Baroso is in my mind a very real suspect doing everything possible to help out the tobacco industry. I just hope that it will not die out and that Dalli has the steam to see this through.
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Luke Camilleri
Kumbinazzjoni tghid.... jew xi patt mohbi?????? Ghalfejn ghandna nemmnub'ghajnejna mghaluqa il-Borroso u ma nemmnux il-John Dalli Kompatrijot?
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And the plot thickens
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My feeling is that John Dalli was becoming a big threat to the tobacco industry and Barroso didn't like it. Maybe Barroso should be investigated for his obvious support of the ciggy makers.
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Tower Of Babel.Clearly EU is in trouble with all graft and corruption,selfishness and cupidity,dissensions and conflicts.Why Mr Barroso is blocking the directive on tobacco? Its not fair.
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Giovanni Kessler passed debate information as regards PHILIP MORRIS must be the first to be debated in EU PARLIAMENT
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Reading through the news one is impressed with the powers this José Barroso has: he asks (to put it mildly)for people to resign, he decides to postpone the tobacco directive till the installation of the new Commissioner.
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Snus producers, Swedish Match and their friends, will make sure that Tonio Borg is not approved and by the time a new commissioner is in place then Tobacco Products Directive will be all but dead and buried.
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IL HURA MIN RASA TINTEN JIEN KONVINT LI DALLI MHUX HATI IZ ZEJT GHAD IRIED JITLA FILL WICC U DALLI IKUN IR REBIEH HEM TAHWIED KBIR U ZGUR MHUX DALLI IMDAHHAL GHALIEX QEDIN JIPPOSPONU IL LILGI XHEM WARAJA