The leaders of the political groups in the European Parliament have rejected a request from the Greens to summon José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, to explain the forced resignation last year of John Dalli from his position as European commissioner for health and consumer policy.
Meeting on Tuesday evening (21 May), they decided instead to wait for a session of the Parliament’s budgetary-control committee scheduled for Monday (27 May), at which MEPs will question Giovanni Kessler, the director-general of the Commission’s anti-fraud office (OLAF).
Barroso demanded Dalli’s resignation last October on the basis of an OLAF report on alleged influence-peddling in connection with tobacco legislation. But leaked versions of the report at the end of April provided no direct evidence that Dalli was aware of illegal attempts to influence the legislation, and some MEPs have accused Kessler of mismanaging the case. OLAF’s annual report, scheduled for publication today (23 May), merely alludes to the Dalli affair, and also brushes over an ongoing feud between Kessler and OLAF’s supervisory committee.
Several MEPs have demanded Kessler’s resignation, and their calls have been fuelled by a report in April from the supervisory committee that criticised Kessler’s handling of the Dalli case. Three members of the supervisory committee are expected to attend the meeting of the budgetary-control committee on Monday, as is Algirdas Šemeta, the European commissioner for taxation and customs union, audit and anti-fraud.
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Kessler appeared before the committee last month amid indications that pressure on him might be easing. Calls for his resignation from Bart Staes, a Belgian Green MEP, and Ingeborg Grässle, a centre-right German MEP, have so far attracted support only from the Greens, and no major political group has picked up the cause.