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Ombudsman launches investigation into European Commission’s Dalligate secrecy

The EU Ombudsman has launched an investigation into the European Commission's secrecy around 'Dalligate', the tobacco lobbying scandal that led to the forced resignation of health Commissioner John Dalli.

The investigation follows a complaint filed earlier this year by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), which accused the Commission of secrecy, selective release of documents and failure to fulfill its obligations under EU transparency legislation (Regulation 1049/2001). In its complaint to the Ombudsman CEO argued that "the Commission has unduly refused access to documents, failed to provide clarity about which documents falling under the scope of request actually exist and used delay tactics."

The Ombudsman has now asked European Commission President Barroso “to submit an opinion on the allegations”. The Ombudsman moreover wants to inspect the Commission's files relating to the resignation of Commissioner Dalli. CEO will receive a copy of the inspection report.

On 26 October 2012, CEO had requested access to “all documents related to Commissioner Dalli’s resignation over the issues covered in the OLAF investigation, including all minutes (and other notes) of meetings, all correspondence (including by email), both internal and external, and any other documents held by the Commission on these matters.” The Commission refused to disclose the most important of these documents.

Since Commissioner Dalli resigned under under controversial circumstances five months ago, the European Commission continues to refuse clarifying the basic facts about the scandal, leaving key questions from MEPs and civil society groups unanswered. The Ombudsman investigation might help to break the Commission's silence and clear the smoke around Commisisoner Dalli's resignation.

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