EU Member States have today in Council given the final green light that will allow the EU to ratify the WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (“FCTC Protocol”). Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva welcomed the decision:

The illicit tobacco trade threatens our citizens' health and drains our budgets, so I welcome this landmark decision in the fight against smuggling. The EU will now proceed with the ratification and I call on partner countries around the world to accede to the FCTC protocol and join forces with the EU in this battle.        

Background:

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 on 7 June 2016, the Council has now formally adopted the two decisions allowing the EU's instruments of ratification to be deposited at the United Nations headquarters in New York. 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).