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European Commission launches public consultation on tax rules for alcoholic beverages

DBR Staff Writer Published 30 August 2016

The European Commission (EC) has launched a public consultation on tax rules for alcoholic beverages.

The consultation, which will run for three months, will evaluate whether some of the rules on excise duty on beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages must be modified to fight tax fraud and reduce the sale of counterfeit alcohol.

The commission also wants to know people’s opinion about the viability of reducing excise duties and making rules simpler for home and small brewers.

The consultation is part of the EC's Better Regulation agenda, which intends to simplify EU laws to lower regulatory costs and safeguard consumers.

The existing alcohol excise structure directive is more than twenty years old. The commission aims to set up a level playing-field among producers of alcohol by ensuring that EU-wide rules are applied correctly and effectively.

The consultation calls upon not just consumer groups, but also alcohol producers, retailers and other interested parties to express their opinions on a range of issues including the possible advantages of implementing exemptions and common reduced rates, particularly for small producers of alcoholic beverages and home-brewers.

The commission also says that the consumers need to be well-informed about what they are drinking such as, whether discounted alcohol is more likely to be counterfeit or does it have any harmful chemicals mixed in it.

Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Moscovici said: "Current rules on the classification and excise structure of alcoholic beverages can be open to interpretation, so that some producers can exploit tax loopholes by producing and selling counterfeit alcohol.

“By taking part in this public consultation, interested parties and consumers can have a real impact on reducing fraud in this area. We also want to look at ways to lighten the burden for our smaller producers."