By Martin Banks - 16th April 2013
The EU has done itself no favours
The European parliament has refused to set up a special committee to probe the role lobbyists play in EU decision making.
The move was criticised by Rebecca Harms, joint leader of parliament's Greens/EFA group, who has asked the assembly to reconsider the decision.
The demands follow the resignation late last year of former EU health commissioner John Dalli amid accusations that he was aware of attempts to alter draft EU legislation.
Speaking in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Harms said, "The EU has done itself no favours in refusing to set up a special committee.
"Contrary to what has been said, this was not a committee of inquiry into the Dalli case. Its role was to look generally at the influence lobbyists have on the EU decision making process and the lobbying industry.
"It would in no way have interfered in the ongoing investigation on Dalli."
She says the group will ask the conference of presidents, or group leaders, to reconsider the decision when they meet on Thursday.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Dalli has returned to Malta after almost four months in Brussels recovering from a medical condition.
Maltese police have been waiting for Dalli to return so they can take possible action over accusations he was involved in an attempt to obtain a bribe from tobacco firm Swedish Match in return for a lifting of the EU-wide ban on snus, a smokeless tobacco that can only be sold in Sweden.
He had been expected to appear in court in December but had produced a medical certificate saying he could not travel.
Dalli has rejected accusations he was aware of the attempted bribe and says he may still take action against the commission.
His return comes after MEPs recently raised fresh questions about the investigation by the EU anti-fraud agency, Olaf, the probe of which led to his resignation.
The agency never made a legal case against Dalli but its director general, Giovanni Kessler, had spoken of "unambiguous circumstantial evidence" that the former commissioner knew that a request for money had been made in his name.