For the first time, a European Commission president is called to testify before the Court of the European Union in Luxembourg.
In October 2012, it took Mr. Barroso a half hour to sweep his Health Commissioner, the Maltese John Dalli (photo), out of office. At the time, the Commission President stated that he had been informed by the Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) that one of Commissioner Dalli’s close acquaintances, Silvio Zammit (a Maltese Nationalist Party official), had demanded a bribe from tobacco giant Swedish Match to influence European legislation on snus (a form of chewing tobacco manufactured by the company and consumed primarily in the Scandinavian countries), the sale of which is illegal in the EU.
However this version is disputed by former Commissioner John Dalli, who has accused Swedish Match and President Barroso of having colluded to get rid of him in a bid to delay by at least one year, if not two, the tobacco law.
Moreover, the manner in which President Barroso ousted Commissioner Dalli is astonishing: in the absence of a written document, he claims that John Dalli resigned verbally before two of his employees (Barroso’s chief of staff and the EU Legal Service chief).