The European Commission has adopted a package of measures to step up its fight against the illicit tobacco trade, especially cigarette smuggling, according to a press note issued by the Commission on Thursday.
The Commission claimed that the illicit tobacco trade was a ‘global threat’ depriving EU member states of more than €10 billion in tax and duty revenue.
‘Not only does this hit national revenues hard, illicit trade also fuels the shadow economy since it is almost exclusively the domain of organised criminal groups operating across borders,’ the note said .
‘Furthermore, it also undermines health policy initiatives aimed at discouraging the consumption of tobacco products and legitimate business as most illicit products are not made in line with EU rules on tobacco products.
‘To effectively tackle the problem of illicit tobacco trade, the Commission’s strategy sets out a number of co-ordinated measures at national, EU and international level.’
“Every year €10 billion is lost to the EU and its member states due to cigarette smuggling,” said Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs Union, Anti-Fraud and Audit.
“In particular in these times of drastic spending cuts, this is an unacceptable loss. It’s necessary to stop the illegal activities of sinister criminals that fuel the shadow economy. With today’s package of measures to clamp down on cigarette smuggling, we can help to better protect the public purse, the health of our citizens and legitimate businesses.”
The strategy proposes actions in what are said to be four key areas so as efficiently to tackle the illicit trade in tobacco products:
- Measures to decrease incentives for smuggling activities;
- Measures to improve the security of the supply chain;
- Stronger enforcement of tax, customs, police and border authorities; and
- Heavier sanctions for smuggling activities.
‘The strategy also analyses existing legislation and policies, identifies weaknesses and gaps, and proposes additional reinforced actions,’ the note said. ‘It also seeks to better co-ordinate existing policies and tools as the fight against illicit trade is a cross-cutting issue, as well as to improve co-operation between the various actors at EU, national and international level. The implementation of concrete measures and actions in the strategy are set out in an Action Plan.’
Category: Breaking News