Giorgos Kyrtsos, an EU lawmaker of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), decided on Wednesday to leave the party and join the centrist Renew Europe group in the European Parliament. The move comes as a result of an ongoing row between the MEP and his national New Democracy party, which belongs to the EPP.
In February, the ruling New Democracy party expelled EU lawmaker Kyrtsos from its ranks because of his criticism against the government over media freedom, the handling of the pandemic and a scandal related to Novartis pharmaceutical company.
Following pressure from Athens, the EPP chief Manfred Weber held a vote in his group to suspend Kyrtsos for one year. However, in the end, the MEP was suspended for six months.
Kyrtsos sent a letter to his fellows in the EPP saying Novartis “has reached an agreement with the US Government to pay $345 million to the relevant US authorities to Resolve Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Cases”.
He added that the Swiss multinational has also admitted to US Court the unfair and illegal marketing practices that it applied in Greece.
“But despite the Greek government’s immediate pledge to seek compensation from Novartis over bribery revelations, there has been no call to justice for 20 months, and Novartis still enjoys full immunity from persecution and possible compensation in Greece,” the MEP wrote in his letter.