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Dalligate – OLAF has a democratic problem

Thématiques > Europe > Dalligate – OLAF has a democratic problem
29 mai 2013

Belgian judicial authorities open inquiry

During today’s hearing in the EP’s budgetary control committee of the OLAF supervisory committee, it became even more clear that OLAF messed up completely in dealing with the so called Dalligate-affair and has a deep conflict with it’s supervisory body, which is the only body that controls the functioning of the EU’s anti-fraud unit. The OLAF report on which EU Commission President José Barroso based his decision to dismiss EU Commissioner John Dalli was leaked end of April [1] and showed clearly that the OLAF investigation has not been able to come up with decisive evidence as regards the direct participation of John Dalli in attempted trafficking of influence. Today was demonstrated that there is a structural problem with OLAF director-general Giovanni Kessler of whom the greens already asked the resignation.

Today the president of the European Parliament Martin Schultz, informed green MEP’s Bart Staes and José Bové and EPP-MEP Ingeborg Grässle that the Belgian prosecutor J C Van Espen asked to audition them concerning a judicial case, which was opened after a complaint filed by John Dalli against Swedish Match.

Green MEP José Bové, vice-chair of the EP’s agriculture committee, said : « I am grateful to be able to participate in this judicial inquiry and to answer to questions of the magistrate of the judicial authorities in Brussels. I’m especially keen to clarify questions on the registration of the talks I have had with two members of the management of Swedish Match. During this meeting they stated that ‘they had withheld elements à charge against mr.Dalli, while OLAF knew perfectly well that these elements were false’. The reason for this was ‘not to disturb the judicial inquiry going on in Malta’. »

Commenting on the hearing of today, Green MEP Bart Staes, vice-chair of the EP’s budgetary control committee, said today :
« The Supervisory Committee today clearly stated that they often do not get access to OLAF files, or too late or not fully. Although it is their task, given to them by the European Parliament, to make shure that OLAF conducts it’s work in a proper way. It is unacceptable that a European institution as OLAF does not respect fundamental rights and procedures, as is the case in the Dalli-affair. Kessler simply keeps denying facts and says everything is fine. His modus operandi is unacceptable and luckily more and more MEP’s from other political groups begin to publicly confirmed this.

Kessler’s answer that it will be courts who decide on the handling of the Dalli-affair, is simply outrageous. A Director-General of OLAF should do anything he can to prevent breaches of European law, such as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights which became binding in December 2009 when the Lisbon Treaty came into force. Besides the investigation now by the Belgian judiciary, we can be shure that the Court of Justice in Luxemburg will rule in Dalli’s favour – there is jurisprudence on this as indicated today by the Supervisory Committee (Eurostat-affair) – and grant him the requested 2 million euro in compensation. I propose that not EU’s tax payers pay this bill, but Mr.Barroso himself. »
Apart from a renewed call for the immediate resignation of Kessler Bart Staes demands as a logical next step that secretary-general Catherine Day, Barroso and the Commissioner Algirdas Semeta, responsible for OLAF, come to a hearing of the Committee of Budgetary Control to answer in all transparency the mounting pile of questions on this affair, which is more and more damaging the image of the European institutions.
Green MEP José Bové, vice-chair of the EP’s agriculture committee, continued :
« Kessler showed today again that he is not worthy in leading an important European institution like OLAF. By sidelining the Surveillance Committee of OLAF, he shows he is lacking basic democratic skills. Also Commission President José Barroso still has to explain himself over these dysfunctions and takes responsibility for his actions. His argument that he had no other option than to force Dalli to resign is becoming somehow ridiculous and an insult for the European Parliament . »

[1A download of the OLAF report is available at www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/newsdetails/news/dalligate/Olaf-report-00720130427