With the headline “EU health commissioner John Dalli quits over fraud inquiry”, BBC News provide a simple report of the resignation based on the statement issued by the European Commission and Dalli’s denial.
European Voice also base their report on the Commission’s statement but in its analysis reveals that “His resignation is the first by an individual commissioner for reasons of impropriety (others have resigned early, to take up ministerial appointments, for example). The Santer Commission resigned in 1999 en masse
after Edith Cresson, who was tainted by nepotism allegations, could not be persuaded to resign individually. Reforms made since then make it easier for the president to exact an individual commissioner's resignation.”
Reuters quote a spokesman of the Swedich tobacco company involved in the case: "It's unpleasant that these things happen. We can only hope that the process going forward to create a new directive is transparent and honest," Swedish Match spokesman Fredrik Peyron said."We don't know all the details that have emerged in this report. But if he has been involved in this it is reasonable (that Dalli resign)."
The Financial Times commented that “the resignation came at an inopportune moment as the commission prepares for a meeting of EU heads of government in Brussels tomorrow / on Thursday to discuss far weightier matters related to the eurozone crisis, including the establishment of a common banking union.”
EUObserver.com said “The Brussels-based NGO, Corporate Europe Observatory, says the EU capital is currently a theatre of intense lobbying over the final shape of a new directive on tobacco products due next year. Ideas include a ban on point-of-sale advertising in shops - a proposal currently being fought by the London-based PR firm Luther Pendragon and CEDT, the tobacco retailers' trade body.”
Picked by very few media is the statement by EPHA, the European Public Health Alliance which said: "Commissioner Dalli’s resignation shows how powerful the tobacco industry can be in influencing and undermining decision makers that are trying to support public health measures. This also shows that lobbying practices in Brussels need to be much more regulated with increased transparency and a strong role for watchdogs of the decision making process. This is serious enough for the President of the European Commission to take notice and start regulating lobbying practices in Brussels, much more effectively than attempts up to now."
FOX News end their report with a quote from a representative of anti-corruption international organisation: "Despite the efforts made in recent years to clean up, selling influence and personal connections may still be a feature of EU lobbying," said Jana Mittermaier, head of Transparency International's EU office. "If that is the case, EU institutions need to take anti-corruption measures much more seriously."
Coverage was widespread on Twitter on Tuesday but several users were quick to condemn John Dalli without quoting his version of the facts or waiting for further details. One user said “Corruption in Brussels : John Dalli EU Health Commissioner resigns ! He needs to be brought to justice ! Enough of these corrupt people!”
Only the Maltese media seem to have reported on the identity of the Maltese businessman who allegedly offered the Swedish tobacco company the opportunity to meet former Commissioner Dalli.