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International Visegrad Fund

Think Visegrad


Joint Statement of the Ministers of Agriculture of the Visegrad Group and Bulgaria and Romania

We, the Ministers of Agriculture of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, present at the meeting in Cracow on 17 May 2013, adopt a joint statement regarding the impact on agriculture and tobacco processing of the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products (COM(2012)788).

We acknowledge that the reduction of the number of smokers and rational restriction of tobacco products consumption due to their harmful effects is an important objective from the health point of view.

We recognise the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

However, we wish to express our concerns regarding the negative impact that certain solutions suggested in the proposal for a Directive may have on the tobacco growers and processors in the European Union.

We wish to emphasize that the subsequent works on the Directive should also consider economic and social factors, which are as important as the health aspects of the planned legislative act.

We point out that some of the measures presented in the proposal for the Directive aimed at reducing the level of tobacco consumption fail to comply with the proportionality principle.

The administrative bans on production and distribution of certain types of tobacco products will result in reduced demand for tobacco grown in the EU, which in turn will have a negative impact on tobacco growers and processors. Given the highly differentiated share of individual EU Member States in the market of various tobacco products the planned provisions in the form of a marketing ban will affect Member States to a different degree.

We wish to emphasize in that respect that we are particularly against the proposed unjustified limitations on flavoured cigarettes and the ban of slim cigarettes.

The solutions for reduction of smoking suggested in the proposal are not of a comprehensive nature. The proposal fails to provide for safeguards for tobacco manufacturing regions and tobacco growers, usually farming on small areas of lower productivity, in less developed parts of the EU with a high unemployment rate. These problems may result in unnecessary social tensions and may have negative effects by raising the number of people tackling economic difficulties and affected by social exclusion.

We are of the opinion that one of the objectives of the proposal, which is a significant reduction of the consumption of tobacco products, may be achieved otherwise than introducing a marketing ban. For example by raising the awareness among people smoking flavoured cigarettes and slim cigarettes that these types of cigarettes are as harmful as standard cigarettes.

Moreover, the proposed extension of the area covered by health warnings will negatively affect the right of trade mark owners to use the trade mark in the form in which it was registered and will reduce distinctiveness of the trademark. The restrictions on the trademark rights caused by the proposal do not correspond to the principle of proportionality and is therefore contrary to intellectually property conventions that are binding on Member States. The proposed provision moreover extends the possibilities of counterfeiting legal tobacco products, which might damage official producers, individual Member states in the area of tax collection and consumers because such products are often of dubious quality.

We would like to point out that the excessive use of delegated acts concerning the provisions of the Directive is unacceptable, and gives the European Commission too much power of regulation, which goes beyond the scope set out in Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Thus in order to limit the risk of social tensions emerging in tobacco growing and manufacturing regions across the European Union we call for the:

  • Establishment of support instruments for growers that will compensate for the losses incurred by them following the implementation of the Directive. These instruments should not only help tobacco growers affected by the reduced demand for raw material, but also include alternatives to those willing to withdraw from tobacco growing and change the production profile.[1]
  • Removal of the provisions introducing a marketing ban on flavoured cigarettes and slim cigarettes from the proposal for a Directive.
  • Not exceeding the current space available to trade mark owners up to proposed 75% of external area of both the front and back surface of the unit packet and any outside packaging.

We would like to ask the European Commission and the other institutions involved in the finalisation of the legislative text to take into account the considerations and requests expressed in this declaration.

Cracow, 17 May 2013


With the exception of the Slovak Republic.

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