Two weeks ago I published an initial report on the fact that DG SANTE has hired PWC and Everis to conduct both a feasibility and implementation study of potential track and trace solutions to be implemented across the EU.
My article highlighted the fact that PWC has deep and open ties with the tobacco industry: mainly that they are the auditors of PMI and have done other work for other tobacco giants in the past.
After discovering and publishing this information I inquired via the DG SANTE press office on the matter, to no reply.
Only after reaching out to several MEP’s and even the EU Ombudsman’s office did DG SANTE provide a long response from spokesperson Enrico Brivio which is featured below:
“The Commission’s executive agency, Chafea, concluded a contract with the consortium of PwC and Everis for carrying out the implementation analysis regarding the technical specifications and other key elements for a future EU system for traceability and security features in the field of tobacco products. To avoid any kind of doubt, the ultimate responsibility for shaping an EU system remains in the hands of the European Commission, which for this purpose will prepare necessary implementing and delegated acts as envisaged in Articles 15 and 16 of the TPD
The Commission has taken multiple steps to ensure that a new contract for conducting the Implementation Study, which is intended to support the Commission in preparing the implementing and delegated acts as envisaged under Articles 15 and 16 of the Tobacco Products Directive 2014/40/EU , is free of the conflict of interest, in particular with the tobacco industry.
Both consortium members, PwC and Everis, provided the necessary declarations in this regard. Furthermore, the project team’s members: (a) exclude at the present stage the employees of PwC, (b) are subject to personal declarations of the absence of conflict of interest and (c) where required are protected with Chinese walls within their structures.
The work of the project team, including potential conflict of interests, is continuously monitored by the Commission’s services. The key outcomes of the project will be also scrutinised externally, including discussions with stakeholders (including health NGOs), the Subgroup on Traceability composed of national experts and a panel of independent experts.
I remind you also that DG SANTE in particular has been praised in the recent past by the Ombudsman for the transparency of its procedures.”
I inquired further, asking for elaboration on what type of “monitoring” will be taking place as well as what declerations PWC and Everis provided. As of the publication of this article I have received no further elaboration.
My concern is not intentional misconduct of the part of DG SANTE, I just want to insure there is no tobacco industry meddling in such an important consultation.
Further elaboration is needed.
My ultimate fear is the tobacco industry could influence PWCs recommendations in a way that suggest since Codentify has been sold to Inexto that it is now somehow independent.
I will be investigating the sale of Codentify further and already have some interesting leads which I hope to share in the coming weeks.