Britain was trying desperately this week to prevent the collapse of
the European Union’s move to ban tobacco advertising following the
Government’s decision to exempt Formula One racing.
Brussels officials have threatened to withdraw the delayed EU directive
which, they claim, has been undermined by Britain’s decision to allow
tobacco firms to continue to sponsor Formula One.
British officials travelled to Brussels this Wednesday to get the
directive back on track ahead of an EU health ministers’ meeting on 4
If no agreement is reached, the British Government would have to
introduce detailed legislation to implement a ban rather than ask
Parliament to rubber stamp the EU crackdown.
Padraig Flynn, EU Social Affairs Commissioner, has written to Tessa
Jowell, the Public Health Minister at the centre of the row, warning
Britain’s decision could spell the end of the EU plan. ’We cannot
continue indefinitely to maintain a proposal that has little prospect of
adoption,’ he said.
Flynn said an exemption for a single sport was irrational. He believed
Formula One was ’bluffing’ by warning that the sport could move to the
Far East if tobacco funding ended - the threat that persuaded Tony Blair
to overrule Jowell and order the Government’s U-turn.
The EU commissioner insisted only one other country, Germany, backed
Britain’s move, although Whitehall officials claimed the support of
Portugal and Austria.