Klaus-Heiner Lehne

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Klaus-Heiner Lehne is a German lawyer who was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1994-2014.

On 23 January 2014, Lehne was appointed Auditor to the European Court of Auditors by the European Parliament.[1]

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry

Employer Law Firm Had Tobacco Client

Lehne was a partner in the Düsseldorf law firm Taylor Wessing, when the firm listed Japan Tobacco International (JTI) as its clients.[2]

In July 2013, when the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) was under review, fellow MEP Michèle Rivasi wrote an open letter to Lehne, asking him to clarify his potential conflict of interest arising from his position with Taylor Gessing, and its client JTI.[3]

Lehne rejected the notion of a conflict of interest, but stopped short of denying involvement with tobacco companies in his capacity as partner of Taylor Wessing. Lehne claimed it was his duty to “meet with all stakeholders concerned by a proposed legislative act….in order to make informed and balance decisions”.

For Lehne’s full response to Michèle Rivasi, click here.

Regular Meetings with Philip Morris During Tobacco Products Directive Revision

Leaked internal documents from Philip Morris International (PMI) reveal that the tobacco company had annual meetings with the MEP from February 2008 (see Image 1), shortly after the European Commission was tasked to review the Tobacco Products Directive.[4]

Image 1: Snapshot from Philip Morris International internal document, leaked in September 2013[5]


Opposed Tobacco Control Measures in the EU

'High Priority' Lobby Target

The leaked PMI documents reveal that the company considered Lehne a ‘high priority” lobby target during the TPD review.[5]

At the time, Lehne chaired the Committee of Legal Affairs (JURI), one of three Parliamentary committees at the heart of PMI's lobbying strategy.[6][7]

PMI assessed Lehne’s (alleged) position on tobacco issues and documented its findings in a colour-coded spreadsheet (see Image 2).[8]

The colour green indicates a pro-tobacco position. The spreadsheet documents that PMI considered Lehne's views favourable on Plain (or generic) packaging (GP), Expanded Health Warnings (EHW), and Point of Sales Display Ban (POSDB), but appears unclear on Lehne's position in relation to the ingredients ban (IB), New Generation Products (NGPs), and snus.

Image 2: Snapshot from Philip Morris International spreadsheet, dated 15 June 2012, and leaked in September 2013


Issued Negative JURI Opinion on TPD

In addition to being JURI Chair, Lehne was also 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.[9]

JURI’s negative opinion was just as PMI had intended, “opposing extreme measures”,[6] 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.

Lehne briefly spoke during the Parliamentary debate on the TPD 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.[10]

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant Link

European Parliament MEP biography (all EU languagues)

TCRG Research

Notes

  1. European Parliament, Klaus-Heiner Lehne’s European Court of Auditors nomination backed in committee, Press release Budgetary control 23 January 2014, accessed January 2014
  2. Taylor Wessing, Klaus-Heiner Lehne- Partner, 2013, accessed December 2013
  3. M. Rivasii, Directive Tabac: Lettre à Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Eurodéputé (Groupe PPE) Rapporteur du Texte en Commission Juri, 9 July 2013, accessed December 2013
  4. 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
  5. 5.0 5.1 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
  6. 6.0 6.1 Philip Morris International, EU Tobacco Products Directive Review 17 August 2012, from internal Philip Morris International documents leaked in September 2013
  7. S. Peeters, H. Costa, D. Stuckler et al., The revision of the 2014 European tobacco products directive: an analysis of the tobacco industry’s attempts to ‘break the health silo’,Tobacco Control, 2016; 25:108-117
  8. Philip Morris International, Friday sheet 15 June 2012, from internal Philip Morris International documents leaked in September 2013
  9. 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
  10. K.H. Lehne, Debate on the Manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products, 8 October 2013, accessed December 2013