European Ombudsman Calls for More Transparency in EU Tobacco Regulation

Regulations by Tobaocco Reporter
On April 18, the European Ombudsman had preliminarily determined that the commission's failure to handle talks with the tobacco industry amounted to mismanagement and demanded a response within three months.
European Ombudsman Calls for More Transparency in EU Tobacco Regulation


On April 18, Reuters reported that the European Ombudsman had initially determined that the European Commission's failure to handle talks with the tobacco industry fully transparently constituted mismanagement and demanded an answer within three months.


In an open letter on Tuesday, the Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, revealed to the European Commission the preliminary conclusions of her team's investigation into links between the European Commission's executive commission and representatives of tobacco interests in 2020 and 2021. This is a follow-up to an earlier study from 2016.


The ombudsman had recommended that the committee adopt the proactive transparency policy of DG Sante, Directorate General of Health and Food Safety. The letter mentions that, apart from improvements in the tax and customs departments, other departments have not adopted them.


This transparency is required by the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which aims to protect present and future populations from the harmful consequences of smoking.


"My initial view is that the Commission's failure to implement its obligations deriving from the Convention fully amounted to mismanagement," the ombudsman wrote.


Engagement by EU institutions and lobby groups has come under increased scrutiny since the European Parliament was embroiled in a cash-for-influence scandal. Two members of the European Parliament have been charged with corruption and money laundering in Belgium.


The ombudsman found that records were inadequate and failed to keep and provide minutes of all committee meetings with representatives of tobacco interests. The ombudsman also questioned whether commission officials limited their interactions with the tobacco industry to "absolutely necessary."


O'Reilly said she expects a response within three months, which will be posted on the ombudsman's website.


While the ombudsman's recommendation is not legally binding, it has moral solid force.


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