The European Parliament has today agreed that the EU can ratify the WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (“FCTC Protocol”). Following the overwhelming positive vote in the plenary, Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva made the following statement:
I welcome the green light of the European Parliament for the ratification of the first international treaty on fighting tobacco smuggling. Illicit trade in tobacco is a global problem which undermines public health and public budgets. It must be tackled through coordinated action across borders, and the FCTC Protocol will be a key tool in this effort.
Combatting illicit tobacco trade is a priority for the EU as it poses a serious threat to public health, causes huge annual revenue losses to EU and national Member State budgets and is a proven source of funding for organised crime. The Commission was at the forefront of negotiating the text, which sets out a number of measures in order to tackle the illegal trade of tobacco products at a global level. At its core, the FCTC Protocol envisages the creation of a global track and trace system to control the supply chain among participating countries. The Commission actively promotes and supports ratification amongst our partners throughout the world.
In terms of process, after the European Parliament's consent today, the Council (which had already politically endorsed ratification of the FCTC Protocol in February) can proceed to formally adopt the two decisions allowing the EU's instruments of ratification to be deposited at the WHO headquarters. Afterwards, EU Member States will also be invited to ratify (or accede to) the Protocol in parallel, at national level. The Protocol requires 40 ratifications to enter into force. So far, there have been 17 ratifications including five EU Member States (Austria, France, Latvia, Portugal, Spain).