European Commission breaks rules on access for lobbyists

7 May 2013

European Commission breaks rules on access for lobbyists

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong is to ask the European Commission for an explanation of contacts between Commission staff and tobacco lobbyists.

De Jong’s request follows the leaking of a report from EU fraud watchdog OLAF on the activities of former Commissioner for Public Health John Dalli, who recently resigned. 'From the report it turns out that European Commission staff have not been keeping to the code of conduct drawn up by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and recognised internationally on contact with tobacco lobbyists. The report reveals in addition that Commission President Jose Barroso’s decision to force Barroso to resign seems to have been perfectly justified.'

De Jong is also asking questions regarding another sensitive matter concerning the advisory position accorded to lobbyists by the European Commission. 'During the last few weeks I’ve received hundreds of e-mails from people concerned about Commission proposals enabling them to determine what seeds people will be allowed to use in their own gardens,’ De Jong explains. ‘This was of course always an example of unacceptable interference, but it’s even worse than was thought as the chemical industry, which holds patents on genetically modified seeds is clearly behind it. In recent years the Commission has made some progress in relation to transparency, but when it comes to the tobacco lobby and cases such as this involving seeds it turns out that these powerful lobbies retain their grip. My questions will underline the need for an effective approach to this kind of conflict of interests.'

Ex-Commissioner Dalli has been talked about in relation to a possible attempt at bribery, yet despite requests from the European Parliament the OLAF report has not been officially presented to MEPs. Its contents were instead made public by a Maltese newspaper, as Malta’s office for public prosecutions is currently looking into whether charges of bribery can be brought.

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