The political position of former EU health chief John Dalli had become ‘untenable’ the European Commission has admitted.
Dalli quit last week after the EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, linked him to a Maltese businessman accused of trying to influence tobacco legislation.
The entrepreneur is said to have asked snuff giant ‘Swedish Match’ for 60 million euros in return for persuading Dalli to change the law.
Dalli, also from Malta, has refuted the allegations, but contrary to the Commission, continues to insist he was forced to quit.
‘‘The president has the power to ask the Commissioner to resign, and as I said at the start of this briefing, the President offered Mr John Dalli the possibility to resign last Tuesday. Given the reports findings he took that decision to step down,’‘ European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said.
In a further development, the Maltese government has said it wants its Deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg, who is expected to hold talks with EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Monday, to take over from Dalli.