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July 31, 2005

EU Power Struggle.

You may think this is a bit of a stretch but I can see here something resembling the fights over the Interstate Commerce Clause in the US. As you may or may not know Congress has the right (and thus other bits and pieces of the Federal Govt) to regulate interstate commerce. It does not have the right to interfere in commercial activities within a State.

This power has been interpreted extremely widely, as in the recent case over home grown pot. That it was home grown for home consumption should have meant that it was State regulated, not Federally. Yet the Supreme Court took the view, mere months ago, that as such home growth and consumption would replace (illegally but so what) traded pot, in essence that 5 plants or whatever in a greenhouse affected the entire national market, that Federal regulation was just and proper.

We’re seeing something similar here in the EU over tobacco sponsorship.

Ferrari is to defy the European Union ban on tobacco advertising in Formula One motor racing after identifying a potential legal loophole that will let it carry Marlboro's livery at its home Grand Prix in Monza.

The ban officially comes into force tomorrow but Ferrari insists that it is exempt during September's Monza Grand Prix in northern Italy because the event can be defined as a "national" rather than a "cross-border" competition.

The move appears certain to lead to an angry showdown with officials of the European Commission, which is adamant that if the Italian government allows Ferrari to advertise cigarettes it will be in breach of the EC Tobacco Advertising Directive, which prohibits "sponsorship of cross-border cultural and sporting events".

"After July 31 tobacco sponsorship of Grand Prix races should cease," said Philip Tod, the commission spokesman for consumer affairs. "We hope the Italian government will not allow any tobacco advertising at its race."

It all looks drearily familiar to me, a fight between the central powers and the local ones. Given the way the EU court works, pretty easy to see which way they will rule when this finally gets to them. (No, not in favour of subsidiarity.)

Note also the disgusting Statism of Mr Tod’s remarks. A private event, run by a private company, is apparently something that belongs to the Government (note "its") of the country where it occurs.

Then there is also the lie direct:

Markos Kyprianou, the EU health commissioner, advised: "I would remind the [Hungarian] government that the costs of treating tobacco-related illnesses are a drain on public funds."

Nope, they’re not. Smoking saves governments money.(.pdf)

There are two possible explanations for this statement. Our EU Health Commissioner is so deluded and incompetent that he doesn’t know the facts or, he’s a lying shite. Your call.

(Note: The Commissioner is so desperate to communicate with the wider public that his website contains no email addresses at all, nada, not even for his press spokesman. Margot would be proud, eh?)

July 31, 2005 in European Union | Permalink


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Huh? The the body that owns the Italian Grand Prix is a franchise holder in a cross-national competition: the relationship between it and the FIA is *not* like that of the Football Association to UEFA, but as that between the managers of one's local McDonalds and McDonalds Corporation. If it weren't for the franchise, it couldn't call itself 'the Italian Grand Prix', and Ferrari almost certainly wouldn't be competing in it come September. Hence your analogy with the cannabis grower is just false.

Posted by: CCR | Jul 31, 2005 3:29:03 PM

During today's Hungarian GP, Ferrari defiantly flew the Marlboro colors, but BAR and McLaren covered up the Lucky Strike and West logos, respectively. (I can't remember what Renault did.)

Posted by: Damian P. | Aug 1, 2005 12:42:20 AM

The Philip Morris study (to which you provide a link) of the supposed net benefit to governments is junk, as even a cursory analysis reveals.

For example, it counts the VAT on cigarettes as a net benefit to government finances, conveniently ignoring the fact that if money were not spent on cigarettes it would be spent on something else, which would also generate VAT revenue. There are numerous other examples in this report of the fact that it shows what Philip Morris (by an amazing coincidence, a tobacco company) wanted it to show and does not resemble any sort of rigorous analysis.

I'm not saying tobacco advertising should be banned, just that the report to which you refer is obvious junk.

Posted by: HJHJ | Aug 1, 2005 8:32:08 PM