European Alcoho... / Media Centre / Newsletter / 2006 / Issue 2 (July... / News from the E... / Commission drops legal action against UK policy to prevent booze cruises  

28/06/2006

Commission drops legal action against UK policy to prevent booze cruises

Last 28 June the European Commission decided to close the case against the United Kingdom over its application of EU law relating to excise duties on tobacco and alcohol.

Under EU 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.

In order to prevent ‘booze cruise' travellers from importing cheap alcohol from France the UK customs demanded in the past proof that travellers' cargo was for personal use only but in its absence, confiscated their alcohol and sometimes their vehicles.

The Commission subsequently took legal action, alleging infringements of EU rights to move excised goods around the EU.

In response, the UK reversed the burden of proof onto their customs teams and stopped systematic confiscations. Following the changes made by the UK authorities in its policies and practices in relation to the importation of excise goods from other Member States, Commission decided last 28 June to not bring the case before the court of Justice.

The EU Commissioner responsible for Taxation policy, Mr. László Kovács welcomed the UK's decision and the “balance…between fighting tax evasion and the principles of the EU internal market”.

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