CEO welcomes final Ombudsman ruling on Commission's tobacco lobby secrecy

The European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly today closed her inquiry into the European Commission's implementation of UN tobacco lobby rules, which in 2014 had been prompted by a complaint from Corporate Europe Observatory.

Corporate Europe Observatory welcomes her strongly worded final ruling, which rebukes the European Commission for maladministration over its violation of the UN rules. This decision by the Ombudsman follows the Commission’s rejection of her recommendations for greater transparency on tobacco lobbying across the institution earlier this year.

Olivier Hoedeman, research and campaign coordinator at Corporate Europe Observatory, commented:

“Instead of using the Ombudsman's recommendation as an opportunity to fully comply with UN treaty obligations, Commission President Juncker stubbornly continues to defend the status quo.

“The Commission's refusal to apply the UN rules across all its departments ignores the fact that most contacts between Commission staff and tobacco lobbyists happens outside of DG Health.

“We know of many tobacco industry lobby meetings with high-level employees at DG Trade and DG GROW, which were organized, for example, by tobacco giants Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco.

“After the sluggish reaction to ex-EU President Barroso's scandalous move to Goldman Sachs, the Juncker Commission's failure to act against tobacco lobbying secrecy is another example of lacking political will to tackle undue corporate influence”.

Notes to Editors:

  • See the October 2014 complaint which Corporate Europe Observatory filed with the Ombudsman’s office over the European Commission’s secrecy around tobacco lobbying.

  • Consult the Commission’s negative reply to the Ombudsman’s recommendations (January 2016).

  • Currently only one of the Commission's more than 30 departments has proactive transparency rules for relations with the tobacco industry (DG Health), in line with the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control - to which the EU is a signatory.

  • Meetings between tobacco lobbyists and Commission staff have frequently happened outside of DG HEALTH, namely with staff at DG Trade and DG GROW (Internal Market and Industry). involving Philip Morris, BAT, JTI and lobby group CECCM. Issues discussed included the implementation of the tobacco products directive, health warnings on cigarette packs and track and trace systems.

Contact details:

Olivier Hoedeman,, +32 474 486 545/ +32 289 30930