Trilogue is the ‘secretive’ phase of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) where Council, Commission and representatives of the MEPs meet behind closed doors to discuss, negotiate, horse trade and barter in order to come to a consensus.
What we have learned from these secret meetings,( for that read from leaked documents) has been alarming and dramatically far removed from the amendment 170 that the MEPs voted through on the 8th October.
The latest leak from the 13th December trilogue meeting can be found on Clive Bates blog the counterfactual, but this is essentially the nuts and bolts of it:
20mg/ml nicotine level is the upper limit of nicotine allowed; this has dropped from the 30mg/ml that MEPs voted in.
Flavours are to be allowed, but looks like member states will have the final say on what can be sold in their respective country.
Consistent dosing, testing, notification and nicotine delivery – these are mentioned as required, but more details need to be released regarding what exactly all this will entail. At one point during trilogue e cigarettes were to have more stringent testing and dosing that tobacco cigarettes.
Age restrictions seem to have fallen by the wayside. In 170 there was a no sales to under 18’s. This for some reason has gone, and is now up to member states.
Advertising restrictions – these are not good for vendor or vaper. Advertising would be the same as for tobacco cigarettes, so essentially banned, there are rumours and some interpretations of the law that blogs and forums would also be banned.
The final trilogue meeting about e cigarettes takes place on Monday, 16th Dec, starting at 18:30 Brussels time – which is 17:30 UK time.
This meeting will be between representatives of the MEPs and the Presidency of the European Council, currently held by Lithuania. It is understood that this meeting will essentially agree the text of the TPD to be put back to the MEPs and Council. The MEPs take it back to Parliament, the Presidency take it to the EU Council members, and, if there is agreement on both sides – it becomes law, and just has to be voted through in the Spring of 2014.
However, there is no guarantee that they will agree, there are still a few checks and balances in place, still opportunities for negotiations, and rumours that e-cigs may get thrown out of the TPD altogether, but I stress, these are rumours.
I guess we have to hope that the MEPs will stand firm on the amendment they voted through -170, and any changes to this will be denied. I guess we will know more in the next few days if this apparently EU wide harmonising TPD is really about harmony and health or not.