EU-Belarus co-operation: Can it help in fighting illicit trade?

The illicit tobacco trade, representing 10.4% of the global cigarette market, is becoming an increasingly important issue with severe overall repercussions on finance, taxation, public health and international security. According to the KPMG SUN Report, a large proportion of the illicit cigarettes consumed in Europe originate from Eastern Europe, including Belarus.

However, 2016 witnessed promising improvements in cooperation between the EU and Belarus in tackling this problem. The EU lifted most of its sanctions against Belarus and is now pushing forward a number of measures to boost economic ties with Minsk, including ratification of the FCTC Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Product and other specific engagements aimed at controlling the supply chain. The time is now ripe to bring cooperation a step further.

EURACTIV organised a workshop to go beyond an analysis of the problems and look at concrete solutions on how to tackle the illicit tobacco trade. Questions included:

  • What should the EU do to improve its approach to fighting the illicit tobacco trade?
  • What are the main constraints in coordinating efforts with non-EU countries? How to overcome them?
  • Can cooperation between the EU and Belarus become a model to apply to other countries in the Eastern Neighbourhood?
  • How can Track&Trace systems contribute to this?

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