Sunday

22nd Apr 2018

EU needs more time to assess €1 billion tobacco deal

  • A hearing on cigarette smuggling in the European Parliament, 2014. The commission is assessing what influence a deal with tobacco company PMI has had on smuggling (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Commission needs more time than foreseen to finish an assessment of a 12-year agreement with tobacco multinational Philip Morris International (PMI).

The deal, which made PMI, the EU and its member states allies in the fight against cigarette smuggling and involved PMI paying more than €1 billion, is set to expire in July.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Georgieva is due to appear at a committee meeting at the European Parliament on 25 January (Photo: European Parliament)

The question is whether the EU wants to renew it. Member states have already indicated that they are positive towards opening negotiations for a renewal.

The commission has said it has not made a decision yet on prolongation and will do this only after looking at the merits and faults of the agreement.

But the date by which this assessment was to be published has been pushed forward at least twice.

In May, the commissioner overseeing the report, Kristalina Georgieva, said the commission was “going to finalise an assessment in a couple of weeks”.

In October, Georgieva told members of the European Parliament “we still aim to finalise and publish the assessment during the present quarter”, or by 31 December 2015.

As of Thursday (7 January), the assessment is not yet finished.

This website asked the commission why the assessment was not yet finished.

“The Commission is finalising the assessment, also taking into account the experiences of Member States, which are parties to the agreements. We are carefully analysing all inputs we have, aiming to arrive at an objective document, which rightly reflects the status quo and outlines the way forward”, a commission spokesperson wrote in an e-mailed answer Thursday.

“The Commission is working towards having it finalised as soon as possible,” the spokesperson added.

Lack of data

Because the issue involves the illegal act of cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting, there is a lack of independent data on how smuggling has changed over the past twelve years, let alone what impact the PMI deal has had on it.

In December, this website tried to assess the impact of the agreement on cigarette smuggling, but found that an independent judgement was difficult to form due to the lack of information.

In any case, even if the commission decides it wants to renew the deal, there is no guarantee that it will look similar to the current one. The annual payments that PMI has made, for example, were part of an out-of-court settlement, and one may wonder whether the company is eager to give the EU and national budgets more free money.

Georgieva is due to appear at a committee meeting at the European Parliament on 25 January. If the assessment is not done yet by then, she can expect some tough questions from MEPs.

Investigation

Scant evidence EU tobacco deal curbed smuggling

A ‘landmark’ agreement with tobacco company PMI was supposed to bring down cigarette smuggling. But it is very difficult to estimate the success of the deal, which is up for renewal in 2016.

Investigation

How did EU spend its €110mn of tobacco money?

The European Union and its member states have so far received at least €1.4 billion from four tobacco giants as a result of anti-smuggling cooperation agreements. How have they spent that money?

Agenda

Migration and bailouts on EU agenda This WEEK

Migration will still be top the agenda when home affairs ministers hold their first meeting this year. Manwhile the EU Court of Auditors will publish a report on the management of aid plans to countries in difficulty.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists