Production and trade
In the EU, tobacco cultivation represents some 100,000 ha and 60,000 specialist producers.
Tobacco is grown in 12 EU countries. The main producers are Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain and Poland, which account for around 85% of the EU tobacco growing area. There is a trend towards smaller growing areas, mainly due to falling consumption of tobacco products.
The EU produces some 200,000 tonnes of dried tobacco leaves a year. Yields vary between 1 and 3 tonnes a hectare, depending on the variety. "Flue-cured" Virginia varieties account for almost 50% of output, "light-air-cured" Burley varieties around 15%, "sun-cured" or oriental almost 35% and other varieties ("dark-air-cured" and "fire-cured") less than 3%.
The EU produces less than 3% of global yearly raw tobacco production, and imports some 400,000 tonnes a year, mainly from Africa and America. It exports around 100,000 tonnes a year. World raw tobacco supply matches demand, with average market prices more or less stable since 2009.
The EU's tobacco regime (Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 ) contains rules for raw tobacco (CN code 2401), notably on interbranch organisations and producer groups.
Since 1st January 2010, the EU has not granted any specific subsidies for raw tobacco production. The old subsidy was converted into direct payments (Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013 ) and rural development support (Regulation(EU) No 1309/2013 ).
Tobacco sector reform
In April 2004, the Council of EU Agricultural Ministers decided to reform the raw-tobacco sector along the same principles as the CAP reform of June 2003. The system of production quotas was abolished and financial support decoupled from production. EU Member States covered by the tobacco regime were given a transition period to adjust, between 2006 and 2009.
During this period, these Member States could either completely break the link between production and the financial aid provided to the tobacco sector (known as "decoupling") or continue to link part of the provided aid to production. Decoupling aid from production allows producers to grow other crops – if they wish – while maintaining stable incomes.
Since 2010, EU aid has been completely decoupled from production. 50% of the previous tobacco aid was incorporated into the direct payment system. The other 50% went into the EU's rural development programmes, particularly in tobacco-growing regions.