EU funding for tobacco

European Parliament approves hypocritical tobacco subsidies

Strasbourg, 20th May 2008 — The European Parliament voted today to maintain EU tobacco production subsidies, contrary to appeals from the Conservative Party. Conservatives MEPs are vehemently opposed to tobacco subsidies in the EU, which cost taxpayers millions of pounds.

More than £200 million (293 million euros) has been set aside to pay tobacco premiums in the 2008 EU budget, and an additional £10 million (14,250,000 euros) has been earmarked for the Community Tobacco Fund. Direct payments to tobacco farmers, which were due to expire in 2009, will run until 2012 as result of amendments passed last month in the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee.

Sir Robert Atkins MEP, said:

“It beggars belief that whilst food prices are going through the roof, we are still directly funding tobacco farms around Europe. On the one hand the EU talks about cutting dependency on tobacco, then on the other it sanctions an extra three years of direct tobacco subsidies, whilst virtually all other sectors have moved to an area based payment.

“We spend £200 million on funding tobacco, yet only £30 million in the UK on tobacco awareness schemes. The CAP should be supporting healthy products, not something like tobacco. We end up not only having to pay to support its cultivation, but also the huge costs in treating its effects. I am amazed that the Parliament has missed its last opportunity to put a stop to this ludicrous system.”

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