Ireland North West MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher has welcomed new EU measures to step up the fight against illicit tobacco trade and cigarette smuggling.
The Commission proposes measures based on four key areas in order to efficiently tackle the illicit tobacco trade which include decreasing incentives for smuggling activities; securing the supply chain; strengthening sanctions on smugglers and enforcement of tax, customs and border authorities. An Action Plan has been established, setting out the implementation of concrete measures including the analysis of existing legislation and the identification of weaknesses and gaps.
Pat the Cope stated “I welcome this decision by the European Commission as the illicit tobacco trade has become an increasingly damaging problem for Member States and the EU, causing losses of over €10 billion revenue every year in terms of unpaid taxes and duties. This illicit trading, which includes counterfeiting, illegal production and smuggling of cigarettes also fuels organised criminal groups in the shadow economy and undermines health policy initiatives aimed at reducing the consumption of tobacco products.”
Mr. Gallagher has called on the Irish Government to adopt the strategy proposed by the European Commission as quickly as possible in order to combat this increasingly damaging problem.
Pat the Cope concluded by stating ”Ireland has the highest rate of tobacco taxation in the EU, and considering the current financial state the economy is in, the extreme loss of revenue brought on by this illegal tobacco trade is unacceptable.”
The measures proposed by the Commission will be launched in the short and medium term. The implementation of the strategy should be concluded by the end of 2015.