Disturbing coincidence : the day when the final agreement on the revision of tobacco directive is concluded between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission, Michel Petite was relieved of his duties as head of the ethics committee in charge of evaluating the potential conflicts of interests of European Commissioners. He himself was defending the interests of the tobacco industry at the same time he advised the Commission on the independence of Commissioners – a scandal in itself !
Michèle Rivasi and Jose Bove , EELV MEPs commented the news as follows :
« We welcome this news, the European Commission finally did a bit of tiding up of conflicts of interest in-house ! In December 2012 during the Dalligate, our group had already denounced the renewal of Michel Petite’s mandate as Chairman of the Ethics Committee despite his duties as a lawyer in the renowned firm Clifford Chance whose clientele included Philip Morris International ( PMI).
February 2013, three NGOs ( LobbyControl , Corporate Accountability International and Corporate Europe Observatory) filed a complaint to the European Ombudsman acting as the real counter-powers defending the vitality of European democracy. The mediator’s report on this case is soon to be published and everything suggests that the Commission anticipates a report and tries to avoid further scandal.
In the future, we hope that the Commission will apply the precautionary principle on such appointments, and avoid further conflicts of interest so detrimental to the functioning of the Union. Distrust of European citizens against institutions has never been greater. »