The EU Commission has said that the timely adoption of the secondary legislation provided for under the new Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) is a priority.
The Commission made its position clear in answer to questions from the Danish member of the European Parliament, Ulla Tørnæs, who was concerned that it might prove difficult for certain tobacco industry players, particularly those involved in packaging, to comply with legislation in a timely manner.
The Commission said it was proceeding as efficiently as possible, while acknowledging the need to respect legal procedures and produce well-thought-out legislation.
‘Further examination is required in all cases, including consultation of stakeholders,’ the Commission said in its written answer. ‘The industry is involved in the process preceding the proposals for secondary legislation. According to the Commission’s information the industry is already taking the necessary preparatory steps taking into account the key elements of the Directive.
‘Prior to the Commission proposal for a new TPD, representatives of the packaging sector were consulted. They indicated that changes to the design of cigarette packages were frequent practice. They also stated that no major investments would be required if pictorial warnings would be made mandatory.
‘It should be highlighted that in Article 30 the TPD provides for a transitional period during which tobacco products manufactured before the transposition deadline can be placed on the market for twelve months following this date.’
In a preamble to her questions, Tørnæs said that in its work program for 2015, the Commission was focusing on improved legislation. A decisive factor for good legislation was a suitable and predictable implementation period, which gave companies sufficient time to adjust.
Tørnæs made the point that in answer to a previous question, the Commission had addressed the complications caused by delays in delegated legislative acts and implementing acts. In this answer, the Commission had stated that the consequences of a delay had to be ascertained when assessing a particular case.
‘The deadline for implementing the Tobacco Products Directive, Directive 2014/40/EU, is 20 May 2016,’ Tørnæs said. ‘The text of the law will be supplemented by delegated legislative acts and implementing acts. The industry – particularly the packaging sector – will need 12 to 18 months to adjust production so that it complies with the new legislation.
‘According to the indicative plan for the implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive, some of the delegated legislative acts and implementing acts are expected to be published in the last quarter of 2015 or later. This will not give the industry the 12 to 18 months it needs to convert production.’
Tørnæs then posed three questions:
‘Would the Commission explain what consequences delays in delegated legislative acts and implementing acts will have?
‘Would the Commission give earlier examples of directives, where delays in delegated legislative acts or implementing acts made it difficult to comply with the time limit for implementation?
‘Would the Commission describe the steps it took to alleviate these difficulties?’