The proposed Europe-wide ban on tobacco advertising has been
plunged into fresh controversy amid reports that the European Commission
’bought’ the Greek Government’s support for it.
Greece astonished other EU member countries by ending its opposition to
the ban and agreeing to back it at the EU health council meeting on 4
Now the German MEP, Werner Langen, has demanded an investigation into
reports that the Commission got Greece’s support by agreeing that it
need not repay pounds 130 million in illegal subsidies to its tobacco
The Commission denies any secret agreement with Greece. But Langen said:
’If a deal was done, then this calls into question the validity of the
Germany may also take the case to the European Court, claiming that the
health council failed to follow proper procedures when it adopted the
However, the row is unlikely to scupper the ban. ’Allegations of
inducements are almost impossible to prove,’ an ad industry source
Meanwhile, Britain’s Advertising Association is assembling a ’task
force’ to stop the Commission becoming a ’bureaucratic tyrant’.
Officials are furious at the Commission’s failure to act against
France’s Loi Evin, which prohibits alcohol advertising, Greece’s
restrictions on toy advertising and an unresolved ad infringement case
brought against Germany by Polygram.
Lionel Stanbrook, the AA director-general, has written to Neil Kinnock,
the EU transport commissioner, urging him to stop his support for the
restrictions. ’They damage UK investment,’ he said.