Klaus-Heiner Lehne

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Klaus-Heiner Lehne is a German lawyer and politician who was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1994-2014. In 2003, Lehne became a partner in the Düsseldorf law firm Taylor Wessing[1], which lists Japan Tobacco International (JTI) as one of its clients. To see a list of Taylor Wessing’s clients, including JTI, click here. Despite the fact that he consults for a law firm that has JTI as it client, on 23 January 2014 the European Parliament endorsed Lehne to become the German Auditor at the European Court of Auditors.[2]

Activities in Relation to the EU Tobacco Products Directive Revision

High Priority Lobby Target for PMI

Leaked internal PMI documents reveal that one of PMI’s strategies to undermine the EU Tobacco Products Directive Revision (TPD) was to “activate MEPs”, with Lehne being considered a ‘high priority” lobby target.[3] From 2009-2014, Lehne was the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee of Legal Affairs (JURI) which was one of three Committees identified by PMI as being central to their lobby efforts (the other two being the Parliamentary Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) and Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO).[4] Documents further reveal an ongoing annual contact between PMI and Lehne starting in February 2008 (see Picture 1[3]), several months after the European Parliament called on the European Commission to tighten tobacco regulation and revise the 2001 EU Tobacco Products Directive.[5]

Picture 1: Snapshot from Philip Morris International (PMI) leaked document which was leaked in September 2013

Considered tobacco-friendly by PMI

One leaked PMI document reveals that PMI flagged Lehne’s position on certain elements of the TPD to be favourable to the company. A spreadsheet dated 15 June 2012[6], coding MEPs’ positions on TPD issues and arguments, highlighted Lehne’s position ‘green’ (pro-tobacco) on Generic Packaging (“GP”), Expanded Health Warnings (“EHW”) and Point of Sales Display Ban (“POSDB”) (see Picture 2). Other fields were left uncoded; including the Ingredients Ban (“IB”), New Generation Products (“NGPs”) and snus. The arguments section was also left uncoded.

Picture 2: Snapshot from Philip Morris International (PMI) leaked document which was leaked in September 2013

Negative JURI opinion

On 22 January 2013, Lehne was appointed rapporteur for the JURI opinion on the TPD. On 29 April 2013, he published JURI’s draft opinion, concluding that the TPD proposal “raise[d] significant legal concerns”, in particular the legal base, the right to property, and the principle of proportionality.[7] JURI’s negative opinion was just as PMI had intended, “opposing extreme measures”,[4] instead proposing measures that were significantly watered down: including reducing the health warnings to cover only 50% of the packs (as opposed to the 75% proposed by the Commission) and to delete the option for individual member states to introduce plain packaging.

Parliamentary plenary vote in October 2013

Lehne, representing JURI, briefly spoke during the Parliamentary debate in October 2013, proceeding the plenary vote, and labelled the proposed revision of the TPD “Ein juristischer Hochseilakt” (a legal tightrope), warning that the lack of legal basis would put the TPD at risk of being defeated in the European Court of Justice.[8]

A Potential Conflict of interest?

In July 2013, fellow MEP Michèle Rivasi wrote an open letter to Lehne, asking him to clarify his potential conflict of interest arising from his position with law firm Taylor Gessing, which counts one of the four biggest tobacco companies in Europe as a client.[9]. In his reply, Lehne denied a conflict of interest. However, Lehne did not explicitly deny involvement with tobacco companies in his capacity as partner of Taylor Wessing. Lehne further claimed that it is his duty to “meet with all stakeholders concerned by a proposed legislative act….in order to make informed and balance decisions”. To see Lehne’s full reply, click here.

Related TobaccoTactics Resources

External Resources

European Parliament MEP biography (all EU languagues)

Notes

  1. Taylor Wessing, Klaus-Heiner Lehne- Partner, 2013, accessed December 2013
  2. European Parliament, Klaus-Heiner Lehne’s European Court of Auditors nomination backed in committee, Press release Budgetary control 23 January 2014, accessed January 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 Philip Morris International, AAA Master File. Background information and meeting details of most MEPs by country, from internal Philip Morris International documents leaked in September 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 Philip Morris International, EU Tobacco Products Directive Review 17 August 2012, from internal Philip Morris International documents leaked in September 2013
  5. European Parliament, European Parliament Resolution of 24 October 2007 on the Green Paper 'Towards a Europe Free from Tobacco Smoke: Policy Options at EU Level' In: European Parliament, Editor. 2007/2105(INI); 200
  6. Philip Morris International, Friday sheet 15 June 2012, from internal Philip Morris International documents leaked in September 2013
  7. K.H. Lehne, Draft Opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provision of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sole of tobacco and related products, 29 April 2013, accessed December 2013
  8. K.H. Lehne, Debate on the Manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products, 8 October 2013, accessed December 2013
  9. M. Rivasii, Directive Tabac: Lettre à Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Eurodéputé (Groupe PPE) Rapporteur du Texte en Commission Juri, 9 July 2013, accessed December 2013