Paris: Motor racing’s ruling body will start proceedings in the European Court of Justice against the EU’s plan to outlaw tobacco advertising from mid-2005.
The FIA said Wednesday it wanted to restore the original implementation date for the Directive on Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship to October 2006, not annul the directive as a whole.
The international automobile federation fears the European Commission’s decision last year to bring forward a ban on tobacco advertising in the EU to July 2005 could lead to a Formula One exodus from Europe.
“Teams and sponsors had already made their agreements to carry tobacco sponsorship up until 2006 based on a widely held expectation that the EU would continue to maintain the original 2006 date,” the FIA said.
“Therefore, the most likely consequence of the 2005 ban in the EU is that a number of the EU events on the FIA Formula One World Championship calendar will have to move to non-EU countries. It is not clear that they will ever move back.
The FIA has calculated that tobacco sponsorship provides Formula One and world rally teams with more than $ 350 million a year. Three of the top four teams — Ferrari, McLaren and Renault — have signed contracts with sponsors until the end of 2006. If the EU holds to the 2005 date, Formula One may have to reduce the number of Grands Prix in Europe in 2006.