23rd Oct 2016

MEPs urge EU commission to end Philip Morris deal

  • EU states seized €460 million worth of cigarettes last year, counted in terms of lost tax revenue (Photo: HM Revenue & Customs)

The European Parliament has called on the European Commission to end its agreement with tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI).

Four hundred and fourteen MEPs voted against the deal in Strasbourg on Wednesday (9 March), 214 backed it and 66 abstained.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Michel Petite (r), a senior EU official, negotiated the Philip Morris deal before joining the private sector to lobby EU institutions on tobacco (Photo:

The tobacco accord, which is to expire in July, made the EU and PMI into partners in the fight against cigarette smuggling. It was agreed 12 years ago and involved PMI payments of about €1 billion to the EU and member states.

The commission in its assessment of the deal on 24 February said it “effectively met its objective.” It added that changes in the market and legal framework cast doubt on its future relevance, however.

Parliament has no formal say in the matter. But in political terms, the commission would need strong reasons to defy the MEPs.

“The voice of parliament has to be heard now,” Spanish centre-left MEP Ines Ayala Sender told EUobserver after the vote.

She said that the parliament asked the EU commission to find ways to substitute PMI’s anti-smuggling resources in the coming years.

PMI told this website by e-mail that “what matters most is that the supply chain control measures contained within the agreement are continued”.

“The ongoing debate continues to be focused on opposition among parties pro- and against the renewal of the agreement, rather than on pragmatic solutions to win the real fight against illicit trade in the EU,” it said.

Belgian Green MEP Bart Staes said in a press release after the vote that it sent “a clear political message against renewing the PMI agreement”.

“This vote should serve as a shot across the bows to elements within the EU commission pushing for negotiations to begin,” he said.

The commissioner in charge of the PMI file, Kristalina Georgieva, told this website in Strasbourg on Wednesday, before the EP vote, that the commission is “very carefully listening to all arguments, from all stakeholders”.


Europe ready to tackle Greek debt relief

The Greek government has built and broadened alliances in EU institutions and member-states that acknowledge the need to restructure the debt and deliver another economic model for the eurozone.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity