The European Union and its member states are losing more than €10bn per year in duties and tax revenue from the illicit trade in tobacco products, according to the European People’s Party in the European Parliament.
In a press release, the EPP Group called for further action against smuggling of tobacco products.
“To tackle this crime, agreements with big tobacco companies were important at the start, but now we need a new box of tools,” said Inge Gräßle MEP, Chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee.
Anti-fraud agreements have forced big tobacco companies to limit these losses for example through tracking their products so that they don’t end up on black markets and through payments when their products are seized.
“The fight against smuggling needs better and more effective tools on top of the current anti-fraud agreements. For example, the flow of illicit, so-called cheap white cigarettes, mostly from the Union’s Eastern borders, needs to be stopped with decisive means. In this fight, the production of raw cut tobacco, filters and cigarette papers should be under strict scrutiny,” said Gräßle.
In turn, Petri Sarvamaa MEP, EPP Group Spokesman in the Budgetary Control Committee, was quoted as saying: “Before any new agreement is signed, we must know how it will reflect on this changing situation. Are the annual payments and seizure payments by the tobacco companies at the right level? This we can only doubt on the basis of the European Commission’s working document released yesterday.”
Sarvamaa also called for more transparency and better action on the European Commission’s side.