A Portuguese member of the EU Parliament has raised concerns about a possible increase in the number of cigarettes being smuggled into the EU from Montenegro.
In a preamble to three questions posed to the Commission, Ana Gomes said the Commission’s 2018 report on Montenegro had highlighted continuing issues surrounding illicit tobacco products entering the EU from the country’s free-trade zone at the port of Bar, and OLAF’s [European anti-fraud office] co-operation with national customs authorities with a view to controlling the flow of these products.
‘Media reports confirm that the Government of Montenegro has authorised a new free-trade zone in Podgorica to begin operations,’ she said.
‘The Podgorica free trade zone is all the more concerning as it contains a cigarette factory, which reportedly began production trials in late May 2018.
‘These developments present a new threat which could result in an increase in the number of cigarettes being smuggled into the EU from Montenegro.’
The MEP asked:
* ‘Can the Commission confirm that it is aware of the establishment of a new free-trade zone in Podgorica?
* ‘Can it provide details of the measures it intends to take with the Montenegrin authorities to put in place adequate controls on the flow of products from the new cigarette factory located in the new free-trade zone in Podgorica?
* ‘Can it indicate how the illicit trade in tobacco products will be addressed in the context of the accession negotiations on Montenegro’s candidature to join the EU?’
The Commission is due to answer the questions in writing.