Mr. John Dalli, who was Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy until last week, resigned after he found out that he was being investigated by OLAF, the EU’s Anti-fraud office. Investigation started when a Maltese entrepreneur tried to use his contacts with Mr. Dalli to gain financial advantages from the company in return for seeking to influence a possible future legislative proposal on tobacco products. This is a big cause of concern for the members of the Health4Youth project of AEGEE-Europe, the European Students’ Forum.
The project team supports the decision of Mr. Dalli to resign and allow a clear closing of the case where its involved is clarified and his name is cleaned. We hope that in the end of the allegation phase it is proven that Mr. Dalli was not involved in the process and he was not aware of these events, preventing the involvement of the EU commission in another case of corruption that may further damage the already weak image of European Institutions. This case has highlighted again how strongly active some lobbying groups are, and how they don’t mind playing hard in order to defend their interests over the public interest of health.
The tobacco industry has money to create amazing media campaigns, they have resources to influence the process and they know all the tricks in the game of EU lobbying. But there is something they cannot fight against. Education has proven to be a powerful weapon to effectively counter their media power to a great extent. The more successful education in public health is, the harder they have to attract people to their habit.
This is the aim of the new AEGEE-Europe project Health 4 Youth: to make information about health and a healthy lifestyle available to the European youth in a clear, understandable and interactive way. With the help of the non-formal education techniques, the Health4Youth project wants to create a new generation of health multipliers that will spread the word in their circle of friends, at university, or within their families, aiming that young people can form their own opinion on health. Healthy youth is our future and the future is in our hands!