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EU considering simpler rules for smaller alcoholic beverages producers

Staff writer |
The European Commission has launched a public consultation to assess whether some of the rules on excise duty on alcoholic beverages should be changed to fight tax fraud and reduce the sale of counterfeit alcohol.

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The Commission also wants to look into whether small and home producers of alcohol could benefit from simpler rules and lower excise duties.

The consultation is part of the Commission's 'Better Regulation' agenda which aims to simplify EU laws to reduce regulatory costs and protect consumers.

This consultation invites consumer groups, alcohol producers, retailers and other interested parties to give their views on a broad range of issues, such as the possible benefits of establishing exemptions and common reduced rates, particularly for small producers of alcoholic beverages and home-brewers.

It also aims to find out whether EU consumers are properly informed about what they are drinking: for instance, whether discount alcohol is more likely to be counterfeit, and as importantly whether it contains harmful chemicals.

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs 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."

The consultation, which will run for three months, will determine possible future changes to the current Alcohol Excise Structures Directive), which is over two decades old. It also seeks to establish a level playing-field among producers of alcohol by ensuring that EU-wide rules are applied correctly and effectively.

Excise duties are indirect taxes on the sale or use of specific products, such as alcohol. They are usually applied as an amount per quantity of the product e.g. per 1,000 litres and are collected by EU Member States.

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