Dublin MEP Nessa Childers welcomed the findings of European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly’s inquiry, released today, into the Commission’s secretive dealings with the tobacco lobby.
Ms. O’Reilly found that the Commission’s practice of engaging with the tobacco industry whilst failing to provide information on the nature of its exchanges to the public constitutes maladministration.
Ms. Childers, a member of the Environment and Public Health Committee and an outspoken member of a cross-party group of European Parliamentarians who oppose the influence of big tobacco in EU law-making, hailed Ms. O’Reilly’s ruling as validating her ongoing criticisms of the EU executive’s contacts with the tobacco industry.
Speaking in reaction to the publication of the Ombudsman’s recommendation, Ms. Childers said:
“Everyone in Brussels with a passing interest in public health policy knew that the Commission was running roughshod over the World Health Organisation’s instructions governing policymakers’ contact with the tobacco lobby, which apply to the EU.
“These prescribe that engagement be kept to the minimum necessary to regulate the industry and that contact must be fully transparent. Yet, Ms. O’Reilly’s inspections found evidence of unrecorded meetings with high-ranking officials.
“The Commission has only been divulging details of meetings and documentation when pushed by MEPs in parliamentary questions and freedom of information requests.
“No wonder that the Commission’s record over tobacco is so fraught with scandal, such as the infamous ‘Dalligate’ episode during the preparations for the Tobacco Products Directive.
“Recently, one of the freedom of information requests made by the lobby watchdog which prompted this enquiry, Corporate Europe Observatory, over meetings with tobacco lobbyists, was so heavily redacted by former Secretary-General Catherine Day, that one must wonder why they bothered with that mockery of the notion of partial disclosure at all.
“The current EU executive again stonewalled me when I questioned them on this latest matter, which is of import to what is being prepared for the EU-US trade agreement.
“The EU Ombudsman is now asking the current EU executive to proactively publish details and minutes of all meetings with tobacco interest representatives, and I away the Commission’s response with great interest.”
NOTE TO EDITORS
The Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in the inquiry into complaint 852/2014/LP against the European Commission regarding its compliance with the Tobacco Control Convention can be accessed on:
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control can be accessed on: