Brussels, 4 August 1999
Principality of Andorra takes effective measures against cigarette smuggling
Following close consultation with the European Commission, the Andorran authorities have recently enacted a number of legal and administrative measures aimed at the effective prevention of cigarette smuggling. The adoption of the new legislation is the final step in a series of developments that began during 1996, when Andorra was identified as one of the main sources of cigarettes smuggled into the European Union (EU). In this respect, large quantities of cigarettes were produced, or imported and stored there, pending their eventual (re)shipment elsewhere mainly for smuggling purposes. It is estimated that the duties (own resources and the Member States national duties) lost to the EU in the year 1997, as a result of these smuggling activities, were approximately 400 million euro. The positive attitude shown throughout by the Andorran authorities, coupled with high levels of co-operation and actions taken by the neighbouring Member States, has already led during 1998, to a significant reduction in illegal cigarette activity. To this extent, Andorra is no longer considered to be a major source of smuggled cigarettes affecting the EU.
The cigarette smuggling was organised on a large scale by international criminal organisations. Recipients of the smuggled cigarette consignments have included Andorra's near neighbours, Spain and France, but large-scale shipments were also destined for the UK and Irish black markets.
The scale of this cigarette smuggling compelled the neighbouring Member States to take strict border surveillance measures by their respective national services In Spain, the Guardia Civil and Customs; in France, the Customs services.
In addition to putting a stop to the smuggling operations, major enquiries involving joint investigations were organised both in the Member States and in Andorra. These investigations were instigated and co-ordinated by the Commission's anti-fraud service - since 1 June 1999, the European Anti-Fraud Office OLAF. Close contacts within this framework have been agreed between the sides also for the future.
The new legal instruments now adopted by the Andorran authorities are as follows:
This initiative reflects the determination of the Andorran Government as expressed by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Albert PINTAT in Brussels on 17 March 1999, who stated that : "…this Government is willing to make impossible all illegal activities …and does not want to stay in the margin of the activities undertaken by the other European States in the fight against frauds in the tobacco sector. With these measures, the Andorran Government wants to give a clear and determined signal to the EU and a precise and concrete message to its neighbours."