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European Commission: Will Move Ahead With Draft Revision of Tobacco Directive

BRUSSELS–The European Commission still intends to move ahead with a draft revision of the tobacco directive in the coming weeks, spokesman Olivier Bailly said Thursday, as he insisted no-one within the European Union’s executive is seeking to block new the rules on tobacco companies.

The tobacco directive is at the center of a cash-for-influence probe by the EU’s anti-fraud office which resulted in former Health Commissioner John Dalli stepping down last week. Mr. Dalli has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

“We will come with the draft revision of the directive in the coming weeks,” Mr. Bailly said. “The Commission will make this proposal. No doubt about that. So really the political commitment is there,” he added.

Any proposal would then have to go to member states and the European Parliament.

In a press conference in Brussels, in which he said he would take legal action against the Commission over what he called his ouster, Mr. Dalli repeated his concern that the directive would be blocked now that he has resigned.

He has also said that the directive was twice delayed internally by Commission officials.

Mr. Bailly declined to comment on who had delayed internal discussions, adding that the process would move ahead once a new commissioner had been appointed to replace Mr. Dalli.

Malta has put forward foreign minister Tonio Borg as a replacement. But he may not be confirmed for some weeks since there must be a hearing with the European Parliament before he is appointed.

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