Jim Nicholson, Ulster Unionist MEP, has condemned a vote in the European Parliament today, which could cost 200-300 local jobs at the JTI factory in Ballymena, as "dismaying."
After today’s vote on the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) Mr Nicholson said:
“My intention has never been to impede the adoption of this directive. I recognise the potential of the Tobacco Products Directive to improve the health of many in the European Union. I have only ever asked that it does not come at a disproportionate cost to our communities in Northern Ireland and across the EU.”
“President Schulz’s 11th hour decision on the voting list demonstrated a disregard for the democratic processes of the European Parliament.The vote taken today was a foregone conclusion and I am hugely disappointed that no opportunity was presented to right the wrongs of the negotiating process.”
“The Directive that was adopted today is inherently flawed. Until last week changes were being made to the text and there has been no opportunity for scrutiny at Committee level or in Plenary. In the rush to seal a deal we reached a typically European compromise on Art 13 paragraph 1 which satisfies nobody.”
“The Commission said a minimum 40g pack size for roll-your-own tobacco, the Parliament said 20g and they decided on 30g. Yet there is no evidence to suggest the 30g figure acts as a disincentive to young people any more than 20g.”
“I promised to leave no stone unturned for my constituents and I have done all that I can. That is why today I voted against Art 13 paragraph 1 and against the TPD. I cannot accept that the livelihoods of hundreds of families should be put at risk for the sake of a compromise unsupported by any evidence. I am extremely disappointed and dismayed with the result of this vote.”