Brussels, 04 February 2008
Commission proposes to continue financing Community Tobacco Fund to pay for awareness-raising on dangers of tobacco
The European Commission today proposed to extend the financing of the Community Tobacco Fund for the next two years. Since the reform of the Common Market Organisation for tobacco in 2004, the Fund has financed information policies to improve public awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco consumption. In the current funding period, the Fund gave support to the "HELP – for a life without tobacco" campaign (see www.help-eu.com).
The 2004 reform put in place a gradual phase-out of tobacco subsidies between 2006 and 2010. In the transitional period before the disappearance of tobacco subsidies, it also set aside for the Tobacco Fund 5 percent of the annual budget for direct payments to tobacco producers. However, this only covered the period until the end of 2007. With today's proposal to the Council of Ministers, the Commission wants to extend it for the calendar years 2008 and 2009. The Fund could be worth up to €16.897 million per year.
Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "Thanks to the reform, tobacco subsidies will be phased out by 2010. But in the meantime, I think it's useful to continue using some of the money to finance actions to inform people about the harmful effects of smoking. That's why I am suggesting extending the scheme for another two years."
Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health, said: "I remain committed to increasing awareness regarding the harmful effects of tobacco use through the HELP campaign and in this context I welcome this proposal."
Under the tobacco reform of 2004, the tobacco-producing Member States will phase out production linked payments for tobacco growers between 2006 and 2010, replacing them with non-production-linked 'decoupled' payments. These will be linked to the fulfilment of certain environmental, animal welfare and food quality standards ('Cross Compliance'). Some countries have already completely decoupled their payments and, as such, the budget for tobacco subsidies has declined from €922 million in 2005 to €321 million in 2007.
The Fund will take 5 percent of the total budget for tobacco subsidies in 2008 and 2009. The current maximum ceiling for tobacco aid stands at €337.937 million, meaning that the maximum annual amount which can be transferred to the Fund is €16.897 million.