DG SANCO chief resigns following ‘sober’ disciplinary inquiry

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

DG SANCO general director resigns after it was revealed she tipped an NGO off on a study tender
DG SANCO general director resigns after it was revealed she tipped an NGO off on a study tender

Related tags European union

Director general of the European Commission’s Health and Consumers unit (DG SANCO), Paola Testori Coggi, has resigned following an investigation into a breach of tender policy.
Paola Testori Coggi

Testori Coggi made an error of judgement when in 2012 she rang an NGO to alert it to the timing of a tender for a food-related study in a room full of her colleagues, the Commission’s spokesperson for inter-institutional relations and administration, Antony Gravili, told NutraIngredients. 

Testori Coggi later realised what she had done was against the Commission’s fair practice policy and cancelled the tender and study, but a whistle-blower went on to flag the incident.  

This then led to a criminal investigation by the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF), which concluded no criminal behaviour had occurred as the study was later cancelled and there had been no exchange of payment or public-funded Commission money lost.

As a result the investigation passed back to the Commission’s own internal disciplinary process, with Testori Coggi announcing her wish to resign yesterday, a decision the Commission has accepted.

Gravili said this had been the culmination of a long investigation, and marked the end of an otherwise, impeccable 32-year career in the Commission, with no suggestion of any other such incidents”​.

‘We’ve got nothing to hide’

He said the Commission had nothing to hide, that this was simply the culmination of a “sober fact-based investigation”​ into the single mistake of a colleague who was “highly respected in-house”​.

He reiterated that no evidence whatsoever had been found of criminal behaviour or commercial gain, but the fact remained that the Commission had a “zero-tolerance policy”​ on situations where rules in place to ensure fair play and to maximise value for tax payers money were not respected.

What happens next?

Gravili said the resignation would come into practice at the end of this month, at which point an acting director general would be appointed.

Beyond this lay a long process of recruitment, meaning “it might be some time”​ before a permanent replacement was found.

Testori Coggi, a biologist and ecotoxicologist by education, joined the European Commission in 1983. The Italian national held the position of DG SANCO chief since 2010, taking over from Robert Madelin, before which she was deputy director-general (from 2007) and director for the safety of the food chain (from 2000). 

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