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Proposal for Council Directive concerning general arrangement of excise duty

The European Commission on 14 February 2008 adopted a proposal to review the Directive on the general arrangements for products subject to excise duty (i.e. alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and mineral oils) which dates from 1992.

The aim of the proposal is to liberalise existing rules for alcoholic beverages bought in one Member State and transported to another and to simplify rules on the commercial movement of excise goods.

One of the most important and controversial changes is in Chapter V, which deals with the movement and taxation of excise goods after release for consumption, because it allows private individuals to have goods transported on their behalf and pay only excise duties in the country where the goods where purchased.

According to the current legislation, individuals are entitled to bring back excise goods (tobacco and alcoholic beverages) which have been bought tax paid in a Member State without incurring further charges, provided the goods are transported by the individuals themselves and are for their own use. (see Article 8 Directive 92/12/EEC “When alcoholic beverages acquired by private individuals for their own use and transported by them, the duty must be charged in the country where they are acquired”).

Under the proposal from the Commission, private individuals could have the goods transported on their behalf and still be exempted from paying excise duties in the State of importation (see article 30 of the proposal).

If this proposal is finally adopted this would mean that private individuals from countries with high excise duties could via internet or telephone buy cheap alcoholic beverages in other EU states and have them delivered to their door while only the duty levied in the country of purchase is paid.

The proposal needs to be approved by the Council acting unanimously and after consulting the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee (article 93 EC Treaty).

The first discussion on the proposal was held in the EU Council on 11 March 2008.

More information:

Text of the proposal

Council Directive 92/12/EEC of 25 February 1992 on the general arrangements for products subject to excise duty and on the holding, movement and monitoring of such products

Information about this dossier

The members of the Wine Intergroup of the Parliament meet with the Commission to discuss the proposal:

The members of the Wine, tradition and quality intergroup of the European parliament met last 12 March 2008 with the representative of the Commission to discuss this aforementioned Commission proposal.

Thomas Carroll (Head of Unit, Excise duties and transport, environment and energy taxes, DG Taxud. The new directive will replace the 1992 directive 92/12/EEC. This will provide the legal basis for the EMCS (excise movement and control system) which is planned to be introduced in 2009, simplify and modernise procedure. This incorporates the proposal that was made in 2004 regarding intra EU movements of excise products that are already released for consumption.

Carroll then explained how the proposal was developed by trade consultations and a number of contributions which were received from wine producers.

Lulling (EPP-ED, LU) said that the Intergroup would be interested in chapter V. She asked what would happen if someone buys champagne online in France but the person lived in the UK?

Carroll pointed out that what he presented was a preliminary presentation and that the commission needs to be coherent with the previous proposal. It introduces the EMCS. The proposal is an attempt to improve issues of fraud. The essential argument against fraud is the electronic system which will allow the tracing of goods from one country to another.

Lulling (EPP-ED, LU) came back to the question of goods for private usage. She asked about personal consumption and what happens if you do no carry the wine yourself to your home country but order it online.

Normally the excise and vat are paid where the good is purchased. Could excise be paid in the country of destination?

Carroll said that at the moment the wine is taxed in the country where it is being made. He added that the commission would not accept anything which would call into question the present acquis. He said that border controls can not be reintroduced, as the single market has to work.

Lulling (EPP-ED, LU) asked about limits on alcohol.

Carroll said that the commission proposes an indicative limit but that limits should be abolished. Some member states are however not happy. He underlines that the EMCS remain the essential thing.

Lulling (EPP-ED, LU) said that it will be a step forward to facilitate transport of goods for consumption so that European truly feel they benefit from the single market. The principle of the country of origin and the excise duties need to be respected.

A representative from the World Wine Values project announced that an event on wine will take place in Monaco in 2009 where debates and ideas will be exchanged.