Edmund Stoiber and the Bavarian Snuff producer
Edmund Stoiber is the former Prime Minister of Bavaria (1993-2007), a state in southeast Germany.
From November 2007 to October 2014 Stoiber was the Chairman of the European Commission’s High Level Group on Administrative Burdens, an advisory group set up to reduce red tape in the European Union (EU). When the mandate of this Group expired on 31 October 2014, Stoiber was appointed Special Adviser for EU Better Regulation by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Lobbying Against the Tobacco Products Directive on Behalf of German Tobacco Company
In his role as Chairperson of the High Level Group, Stoiber came under fire for lobbying against the EU Tobacco Products Directive Revision (TPD) on behalf of German tobacco and snuff manufacturer Pöschl Tabak. Documents released under Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, and published by German NGO Lobby Control, show that Pöschl Tabak’s CEO Patrick Engels wrote to Stoiber on 26 April 2012. In the letter Engels shared his concerns that the proposed TPD measures were particularly problematic for small to medium size enterprises (SMEs), and claimed that the measures would significantly increase his company’s administrative burdens. Engels felt particularly threatened by propositions to introduce Plain Packaging, a Point of Sale Display Ban, an ingredients ban (and the related definition of “attractiveness”) and the ban on smokeless tobacco. Stoiber shared Engels' concerns with Health Commissioner John Dalli when the latter attended a meeting with Stoiber’s High Level Group on 3 May 2012.  Although the Commission confirmed that the tobacco company’s concerns with the TPD were raised at this meeting, the dialogue was not included on the High Level Group’s minutes, because “these usually focus only on those issues discussed in more details”.
A couple of days later, Stoiber followed up his discussion with Dalli and wrote to him, urging him to consider Pӧschl Tabak’s concerns and avoid unnecessary regulation. Dalli’s reply suggests that Stoiber’s intervention had little impact, with Dalli reiterating that the policy options proposed in the TPD would bring the TPD in line with market, scientific and international developments, and that social, economic and health impacts would be considered, including the particular situation of SMEs.
- Copies of the correspondence between Pӧschl Tabak, Stoiber, and Dalli are available on the website of Lobby Control: https://www.lobbycontrol.de/wp-content/uploads/Briefverkehr-Poeschl-Stoiber-Dalli.pdf
High Level Group on Administrative Burdens
The High Level Group has attracted criticism for intervening in proposed legislation, rather than focusing on its mandate, which is the existing rules burdensome to business. Some of these criticisms were shared by some members of the Group who believe Stoiber “may have exceeded his mandate” by discussing the TPD at the Group meeting. One member, Jim Murray, was quoted in Euractiv as saying:
- "It has always been my view that the Group should not comment on draft proposals for possible legislation and certainly should not have privileged access to interrogate Commissioners on such proposals behind closed doors."
The Group has also been criticised by Members of European Parliament (MEPs) for its deregulatory agenda and for endangering current standards for environmental, health, safety and social-policy legislation, with some calling it “a magnet for companies unhappy with proposed EU regulation, providing them with direct and privileged access to commissioners and other high-level EU decision-makers”.
The Group was disbanded in October 2014.
- European Commission, High Level Group on Administrative Burdens, 4 November 2014, accessed July 2015
- European Commission, President Juncker appoints Dr Edmund Stoiber Special Adviser for Better Regulation; First Vice-President Timmermans announces reform of the Impact Assessment Board, 18 December 2014, accessed June 2015
- P. de Clerck, Stoiber group lobbies for tobacco industry. An appeal for transparency over the Dalli dealing, European Voice 16 January 2013, accessed June 2015
- Tobacco lobby focus switches from Dalli to Stoiber, EurActiv 26 October 2010, accessed June 2015
- P. Engels, Revision der Tabakproduktrichtlinie der Europäischen Kommission (Tobacco Product Directive, TPD), 26 April 2012, Geisenhausen, accessed June 2015
- E. Stoiber, Letter to Patrick Engels, 10 May 2012, München, accessed June 2015
- European Commission, Minutes of the Meeting of the HLG on 3 May 2012, High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens
- E. Stoiber, Letter to Commissioner John Dalli, 10 May 2012, München, accessed June 2015
- J. Dalli, Letter to Edmund Stoiber, 28 June 2012, Brussels, accessed June 2015