The FIA slaps Commissioner Byrne

The FIA has issued a statement in response to comments made by the European Health Commissioner David Byrne criticizing the omission of the Belgian Grand Prix from the 2003 World Championship. The federation pointed out that the problem is one related to Belgian law and to the current sponsorship contracts of the F1 teams and added that if Byrne and the European Commission had shown similar respect for legal detail, their original EU Directive on tobacco advertising would not have been declared illegal by the European Court of Justice.

The FIA added that Byrne and the Commission itself might have more credibility in this matter if they were to take steps to end the subsidy of nearly one billion Euros currently paid by Brussels to encourage tobacco growing in the EU.

The FIA then underlined its commitment to banning tobacco in league with what it called "responsible health agencies" which are working together to introduce a worldwide ban on tobacco sponsorship in motorsport by October 1st, 2006.

The federation's stinging riposte to Byrne was kind in that it did not mention one other important issue (at least in Brussels politics) as Byrne has breached EU protocol by interfering with a national issue during an election campaign as the country is already into its campaigning for federal elections which are due on June 15 2003. There is little doubt that the Belgian GP is a big issue in the campaign.

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