Call To Reject Proposal From The European Commission On How To Tax Beers

BeerServesEuropeThe Brewers of Europe warns that the latest European Commission proposal on the revised structures directive flouts EU law by contradicting the recent ruling of the European Court of Justice. The beer sector had expected that the Commission’s proposal would follow the Court’s decision on the Degrees Plato measurement system, used by half of the EU’s Member States for calculating beer excise duties.

As the Council’s tax working groups resume their discussions next week on the European Commission’s “Proposal amending Directive 92/83/EEC on the harmonisation of the structures of excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages”, The Brewers of Europe calls upon the Council, the European Parliament, the EESC and the European Commission to ensure that the revised Structures Directive is lawful and delivers on its objectives.

Secretary General of The Brewers of Europe, Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, said, “Member States would be in breach of EU law if they were to follow the clarification provided in the revised structures directive as it is currently proposed by the Commission.”

By the European Commission making a proposal that “all the ingredients of the beer, including those added after fermentation, shall be taken into account for the purposes of measuring the degree Plato”, it is no longer solely a tax on the alcohol. Under the Commission’s proposal and in contradiction with the CJEU judgment, these sugars would be considered for the measurement of the degree Plato and therefore the calculation of the excise due.

The result is that a flavoured beer – even if produced by a brewery of the same size, in the same country – would be subject to a higher rate than a regular beer of the same alcohol content. This is discriminatory and completely contradictory to the harmonisation objectives of the Directives.

The Brewers of Europe sent its latest letter to Europe’s Taxation Commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, expressing brewers’ dissatisfaction and disbelief at the Commission’s proposal to contradict the decision of the EU’s highest court (Case C-30/17).

Bergeron added: “Our correspondence with the Taxation Commissioner shows that the sole justification found for the contentious proposals relates to the technical, practical and economic challenges of measuring and enforcing Plato legally and correctly. However, we are submitting evidence that shows these concerns are completely unfounded.”  It is noteworthy that none of the countries already applying Plato in line with the CJEU ruling cited any concerns with measuring Plato correctly or carrying out compliance checks.

Whilst The Brewers of Europe supports the majority of the Commission’s proposal, to ensure Better Regulation and respect of the Rule of Law, we call upon the Council and the European Parliament to reject this part of the proposal and invite the Commission to amend it to clarify that ingredients added after fermentation shall not be considered for the purposes of measuring the degree Plato.