European Carton Makers Association

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The European Carton Makers Association (ECMA) is the international association of carton businesses, national carton associations and suppliers to the carton industry throughout Europe.[1]

According to its website, ECMA:

  • provides a voice to "500 carton producers in nearly all countries in the European Economic Area";
  • has a seat in The Hague and an office in Brussels;
  • and represents 90% of the total carton market volume in Europe, and a current workforce of about 45,000 people.[1]

Note- The European Carton Makers Association should not be confused with the European Cigar Manufacturers Association, which goes by the same acronym and also lobbies against tobacco regulations.


Tobacco Industry Funding

ECMA is partly financed by the contributions of its members. For the 2012 financial year, ECMA’s total income was €792,000, of which €375,000 came from members. The rest was made from "membership programmes and events".[2] A number of its member companies produce cigarette packaging and roll-your-own cigarette packaging, including, for example, Amcor Tobacco Packaging, Mayr-Melnhof Packaging International and Nampak Cartons and Labels.[3] According to ECMA , 10% of its members’ annual turnover in 2012 was generated from the tobacco industry, which equates to approximately €801million a year.[4]

Lobbying on Tobacco-Specific Issues

ECMA has been an active interest group lobbying on tobacco-specific issues at the UK and EU level, most recently in relation to the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and plain packaging proposals in the UK and Ireland. Jerzy Czubak, Global Chief Operating Officer at Amcor and Chair of ECMA’s Tobacco Forum said in 2012:

“ECMA is working to educate decision makers on such issues [plain packaging]. We want a healthy society, but good intentions can have unforeseen consequences. Printers and converters need to reach out and speak to politicians and help educate them on these possible unforeseen circumstances.”[5]

Czubak’s comment is reflective of Philip Morris’ (PMI) long-standing strategy to leverage non-tobacco manufacturer allies, for example suppliers, to influence the attitudes, opinions and actions of policy makers, legislators and the media, ultimately seeking to defeat tobacco control measures that could potentially damage the tobacco business.[6][7]

EU Transparency Register Reveals TPD Lobbying Activities

ECMA has been registered on the EU Transparency Register for lobbyists since 4 March 2013[8], stating that it is “focussing on the Proposed Change of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). Various ECMA members produce cigarette packaging and packaging of roll-your-own cigarettes”.[8]

ECMA’s entry declares that in 2014 the association spent less than €9,999 on EU lobbying activities.

ECMA Hired Lobby Firm Interel

In addition to its own lobbying role, ECMA has employed the Brussels based Public Relations firm Interel to lobby on its behalf, and in particular Kieran O’Keeffe, a partner at Interel.[8] Interel’s entry on the EU Transparency Register reported that the firm had an annual turnover of €1,000,000 in 2014 for lobbying EU institutions on behalf of its clients, listing ECMA as one of their major clients, contributing between €100,000-199,999 to the firm’s 2014 income.[9].

If the Interel data is correct, this would suggest that ECMA significantly understated their 2014 EU lobbying budget.

Lobbying Against the 2014 EU Tobacco Products Directive

DG-Sanco

In December 2010, ECMA’s Secretary General Jules Lejeune emailed European Health Commissioner John Dalli, copying other Commissioners, asking for a meeting between the European Commission’s Health and Consumers Directorate-General (DG-SANCO) and ECMA.[10] Lejeune expressed disappointment that ECMA had not been invited to participate in a October 2010 meeting between tobacco industry stakeholders and DG-SANCO to discuss the possible revision of the TPD, seeking assurances that ECMA would be included in all future stakeholder consultations affecting the TPD revision, and particularly consultations relating to plain packaging.

In the email, Lejeune attached a position statement summarising ECMA’s views on the plain packaging option included in the proposed revision of the TPD. The organisation argued that plain packaging would:

1. increase counterfeiting and illicit trade;
2. have a significant adverse impact on the printing and packaging industry; and
3. discriminate against trademarks in breach of the European Commission’s obligations to the World Trade Organization and providing a precedent for other industries.

The letter was signed by Lejeune and ECMA’s Executive Director, Jan Cardon, “on behalf of European Carton Makers Association”. Listed at the end of the letter were seven pages containing the names of 498 packaging and printing organisations represented by the ECMA.[10]



On 6 February 2012, at the request of ‘industry representatives’, a meeting was organised between DG-SANCO and a number of packaging and materials company representatives. ECMA was represented by Jerzy Czubak, Peter Konieczny, Per Lundeen, and Kieran O’Keeffe (Interel). Also in attendance were representatives from the fine paper, cellulose acetate and flavouring industries.[12] ECMA gave a presentation titled “Plain Packaging undermines EU Public Health Objectives”, reiterating its arguments against plain packaging as outlined above.

Non-Health Directorate-Generals

The core of ECMA’s lobbying activities,however, was focused on gaining political backing for its anti-plain packaging views from non-health elements of the Commission and elected representatives. Non-health Commissioners were targeted, including the Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, and the Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Viviane Reding. Andreas Blaschke, ECMA’s President co-wrote a letter dated 26 June 2012 to Hahn[13] claiming that the success of the proposed TPD measures was uncertain, while it would have unintended consequences such as economic impact on suppliers and an increase in illicit tobacco. O’Keeffe (Interel) emailed Reding's Cabinet on 26 June 2012 to request a meeting to discuss the impact of plain packaging in counterfeiting in the EU.[14] The meeting request was declined, but ECMA’s position paper was accepted.

Parliament

In October 2012, ECMA’s lobbying activities shifted to the European Parliament. Lobbying efforts included:

  • 9 October 2012: Czubak met with James Nicholson, Northern Ireland’s MEP, to discuss the TPD (Image 1).[15] Nicholson had a Japan Tobacco International factory in his constituency, and was one of the MEPs who ultimately voted against the TPD.[16]
Image 1: Lobbying contact report James Nicholson MEP, accessed June 2015
  • February 2013: ECMA met with Julie Girling, an English MEP and member of the Parliament’s Health Committee (ENVI), to discuss tobacco packaging.[17]
  • 19 March 2013: ECMA attended a meeting hosted by ENVI for representatives of the tobacco supply chain. ECMA was represented by Konieczny, Tangui Van der Elst, and O’Keeffe (Interel).[18]. Other lobby organisations present were:
European Cigar Manufacturers Association (also known as ECMA);
Inge Delfosse and Patrik Hildingsson of the European Smokeless Tobacco Council (ESTOC);
Sandra Derocle (EU Affairs manager), Jonathan Goff (EU Affairs manager), and Peter Van der Mark (Secretary General) of the ESTA;
Simon Clark of the tobacco industry funded Forest;
Dr Istvan Komoroczki, Head of EU Affairs Imperial Tobacco;
Kristof Doms of PMI;
Mike Ridgway, then from the Weidenhammer Packaging Group
Flaminia Consuelo Triglia, Pascal Montredon and Jean-Paul Vaslin from the CEDT
Mathieu Brucker, Mario Müller and Ronan Barry from the CECCM
Keith Newman of the DCI
Paul Heinen and Carsten Zenner of the ETV
Sven Ballschmiede of the EUTPD Ad-Hoc-Working Group
Daniela Kolb from GAMA
Eric Angelini from the Syndicat National Des Industries Aromatiques Alimentaires
Illies Benyei and François Vedel from UNITAB

National level

In February 2013 ECMA submitted written evidence to the UK Home affairs, Health and Education sub-committee[19] in relation to the TPD, claiming that: "Measures designed to standardize packs and remove complexity will only benefit counterfeit producers and unnecessarily damage the EU packaging industry, which we believe is not the intended target of these measures. Such damage includes loss of jobs and lower tax revenue."[19]

On 5 November 2013, ECMA president Blaschke wrote to the Lithuanian Minister of Health (then President of the European Council) lobbying him over the TPD’s Article 13.1, which stipulates the requirement for cuboid shaped packaging. Blaschke claimed that removing bevelled or rounded edges from packaging would make packaging more susceptible to counterfeiting and offers "no enhanced protection for consumers since Article 12 of the proposed directive already ensures that packaging cannot have a shape which misleads consumers."[20] Blaschke went on to explain that "the European Parliament has understood this issue and opted for a balanced approach in relation to article 13 which removes the unnecessary requirement for 'cuboid shaped' packs", urging the Council to support the Parliament’s approach and ensure “a final outcome which avoids unintended negative consequences for the packaging sector and for health protection."[20]

Image 2: PMI quotes Andreas Blaschke’s opinion as evidence in its submission to the UK Consultation on Plain Packaging

Lobbying against Plain Packaging in the UK

From 2012-2014 ECMA actively tried to discourage the UK Government to adopt proposals that would see the adoption of standardised (plain) tobacco packaging in the UK.

ECMA’s Lobbying Efforts

  • In 2012 ECMA submitted a detailed response to the 2012 UK Consultation on Plain Packaging.[21]
  • ECMA also voiced its opinion through the media. For example writing to the European Voice, Andreas Blaschke, President of the ECMA, expressed his views on plain packaging. Blaschke suggested that:
"pictorial warnings pose no real barrier to counterfeiters: they can be produced (and reproduced) using low-cost printing techniques form equipment readily available in the market and four basic print colours. As such they are not comparable to branding in their complexity." (See Image 1)[22]

Blaschke did not cite any evidence to support his opinions.

  • In January 2014, Blaschke wrote to Sir Cyril Chantler who was leading the Independent Review into standardised tobacco packaging in the UK.[23]. In his letter, Blaschke argued that plain packaging facilitates counterfeiting, and further states that the public health benefits are “uncertain”.

ECMA ‘Evidence’ cited by Tobacco Companies in their Consultation Submissions

To argue that plain packaging legislation will increase counterfeiting of tobacco products and that the legislation would lead to significant job losses in the packaging industry, both British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris (PM) cited ECMA’s opinion as evidence in their submissions to the UK Consultation.[24][25] PMI cited Blaschke’s opinion piece to the European Voice as evidence, although Blaschke did not cite any evidence to support his opinions. BAT cited ECMA’s submission to the Public Consultation to the TPD. In this submission, ECMA claimed that 30% to 50% of the machinery used by packaging manufacturers would become redundant. BAT referenced the ECMA website as the source for the ECMA submission to the TPD consultation.

Lobbying against Plain Packaging in Ireland

In October 2013, ECMA’s Managing Director Hans van Schaik emailed a letter from Blaschke to Irish Health Minister James O’Reilly, stressing the association’s concerns for Europe’s packaging sector if Ireland were to go ahead with introducing plain packaging.[26] In the letter, Blaschke said the European packaging sector “shares the health objectives of any proposal but it does not believe that extreme restrictions on packaging are necessary to achieve them”. Including ECMA’s position paper on standardised packaging, Blaschke called for engagement in the consultation process:

“Legislation of this magnitude deserves a considered assessment of its effectiveness prior to publication. We therefore hope that the Irish Government will engage in a full consultation process with industry sectors like ours, which are directly affected by this proposal and can offer an expert packaging perspective”[26]

TobaccoTactics Resources

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 European Carton Makers Association, Welcome to ECMA, accessed June 2015
  2. EU Transparency Register, European Carton Makers Association, 4 March 2013, accessed June 2015
  3. ECMA, Member Directory. Product: Tobacco Cartons, accessed January 2014
  4. European Commission Health & Consumers Directorate-General, Minutes of Meeting 6 February 2012, Brussels
  5. ECMA maps out the future of carton, 1 November 2012, accessed June 2015
  6. Phillip Morris, Effective Ally Development to Achieve Business Objectives, 12 October 1999, accessed June 2015
  7. Phillip Morris Leaked Documents, EU in Practice, 11 April 2012, accessed June 2015
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 EU Transparency Register, European Carton Markers Association, last updated 30 March 2015, accessed June 2015
  9. EU Transparency Register, Interel European Affairs, last updated 27 April 2015, accessed June 2015
  10. 10.0 10.1 J. Lejeune, Stakeholder consultations Tobacco Products Directive and comments ECMA on potential changes to the TPD, email to John Dalli, Antoni, Tajani, Algirdas Šemeta, Karel DuGucht, Robert Verrue & Michel Barnier from Jules Lejeune on behalf of the ECMA, 7 December 2010
  11. European Commission Health and Consumers Directorate-General. Meeting with stakeholders on the study “Assessing the impacts of revising the Tobacco Products Directive” prepared by RAND Europe: Summary Record. Directorate C Public Health and Risk Assessment, 20 October 2010
  12. European Commission Health & Consumers Directorate General (DG SANCO), Minutes of the meeting, Brussels, 20 February 2012
  13. W. Hӧrmanseder and A. Blaschke, Letter to Commissioner Johannes Hahn dated 26 June 2012, Vienna
  14. K. O’Keeffe, Email to Cabinet Reding dated 27 June 2012 3:16PM, Subject: Meeting Request
  15. Lobbying Contacts Report 1st July-31st December 2012 James Nicholson MEP, entry 9 October 2012, accessed June 2015
  16. Jim Nicholson MEP blog, EU vote puts hundreds of Ballymena jobs at risk, 26 February 2014, accessed June 2015
  17. Lobbying Contacts Report 1st January-30th June 2013 Julie Girling MEP, entry 8 February 2013, accessed June 2015
  18. European Parliament. Meeting with representatives of stakeholders in the tobacco products supply chain, 19 March 2013
  19. 19.0 19.1 House of Lords, [http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/eu-sub-com-f/tobaccoproductsdirective/tpd-written-submissions-volume-final.pdf 2013
  20. 20.0 20.1 A. Blaschke, President of the European Carton Makers Association. Letter to Dr Vytenis Andriukaitis, Minister of Health of the Republic of Lithuania on the Tobacco Products Directive. 5 November 2013
  21. Department of Health Tobacco Programme, Consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco products: Summary report, July 2013, accessed August 2013
  22. A. Blaschke, Plain packaging for cigarettes will ease counterfeiting. European Voice, 10 May 2012
  23. A. Blaschke, Response of the European Carton Markers Association to the Independent Review into standardised packaging of tobacco 10 January 2014, accessed June 2015
  24. British American Tobacco, UK Standardised Packaging Consultation: Response of British American Tobacco UK Limited, 8 August 2012
  25. Philip Morris International, Standardised tobacco packaging will harm public health and cost UK taxpayers billions: A response to the Department of Health consultation on standardized packaging of tobacco products, 9 August 2012
  26. 26.0 26.1 H. van Schaik, Concerns of Europe’s Packaging Sector in Relation to Ireland’s Intention to Take Forward Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products, 17 October 2013 09:55, accessed June 2015