Despite extensive evidence that raising alcohol prices reduces overall consumption levels, the trend is that the real price of alcoholic beverages and the real value of alcohol taxation has been decreasing.

The real value of the EU alcohol minimum excise duty rates, and of Member States alcohol taxation, has decreased since the mid 1990s in most EU countries. In some countries alcoholic drinks have become more affordable by 50%.

Studies have shown statistically significant associations between alcohol consumption and three indicators of harm: fatal traffic accidents, (non- fatal) traffic injuries and liver cirrhosis.

Current excise duties vary for different alcoholic products; this means duty does not always relate directly to the amount of alcohol in the product. In addiction an increase in the duty levied does not necessarily translate into a price increase- retailer or producers may absorb the cost.

There is now a significant body of evidence that has examined the policies that are most effective in reducing alcohol-related harm.

A review of 32 alcohol strategies and interventions has found that in terms of the degree of effectiveness, the breadth of research support, the extent to which they have been tested cross-culturally, and the relative expense of implementation, the most effective alcohol policies include regulatory interventions (controls on price and availability of alcohol); brief interventions for hazardous and harmful drinkers; and drink-driving laws.

Key EU Documents

Directive 92/83/EEC the alcohol structures directive

Council Directive 92/83/EEC- on the harmonisation of the structures of excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages

This directive is intended to ensure a harmonised structural basis to the alcohol duties, it defines the alcohol products that are subject to excise duty. Details the methods by which duty must be charges, it also provides exemptions from duty and gives Member States the discretion to provide reduced rates in certain circumstances (small producers, certain products and geographical regions)

Council Directive 92/84/EEC on the approximation of the rates of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages

This Directive is aimed at approximation of minimum rates, the original proposal in 1993 was for the harmonisation of both structures and rates. However, while structures were generally harmonised agreement on full harmonisation of rates was not plausible. Final directive specified minimum rates with which Member States must comply, they have freedom to set the rates at the levels they deem appropriate on condition that the minimum rates are complied with.

Current Minimum Rates


0.748 euros per hectolitre/ degree Plato or 1/87 per hectolitre/degree of alcohol

Intermediate product

45 euros per hectolitre of product

Ethyl Alcohol

550 euros per hectolitre of pure alcohol

Wine and fermented beverages


Publications and Resources

Further study on the affordability of alcoholic beverages in the EU.

RAND Europe, 2012. The study focus especially on excise duty pass-through, on- and off-trade sales, price promotions and pricing regulations

The affordability of alcoholic beverages in the EU.

RAND Europe, 2009. Report commissioned by DG SANCO. It analyses the link between alcohol affordability, consumption and harms

Optimal alcohol taxation: stimulation results in Estonia

The aim of this paper is to empirically estimate the optimal level of alcohol taxes for Estonia on externality as well as fiscal grounds.

Indrek Saar. Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, Kase 61,12012 Tallin, Estonia

Study analysing possible changes in the minimum rates and structures of excise duties on alcoholic beverages

London Economics, 2010, Study analysing possible changes in the minimum rates and structures of excise duties on alcoholic beverages

Report to EC DG Taxation and Customs Union. The study provides (i) an assessment do the current burdens of taxation and economic relationships between the different types of alcoholic beverages in different Member States (ii) an assessment of the economic impact on the particular beverages and on the different Member States of potential changes to the alcohol directives compare to the current status quo.

Alcohol affordability and cross border trade in alcohol

Swedish National Institute of Public Health, 2009, Alcohol affordability and cross- border trade in alcohol

Commissioned by the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs to the Swedish National Institute of Public Health and further delegated to the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare. This report was discussed at the Expert conference on Alcohol and Health in Stockholm in September 2009 during the Swedish presidency of the European Union.

Eurocare Press Releases


UK Government bows to industry pressure and abandons plans for minimum alcohol price

Britain’s Government has yesterday announced that it will not be taking forward proposals to introduce MUP at this time, but it would be legislating to ban sales below the cost of duty plus VAT.


Cheaper beer in Denmark – How many lives will be lost?

The Danish government cut the beer tax by 15% on the 1 July and made alcohol more affordable for not only its own population, but also the neighboring countries like Sweden and Norway (that have higher taxes).


Eurocare strongly supports Court's judgment on Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol in Scotland

The Court of Session, Scotland's supreme civil court, has ruled today in favour of the legality of the Scottish government's plans to introduce minimum pricing per unit of alcohol.


Sharp drop in alcohol-related deaths follows minimum alcohol price increase

An increase of minimum price of alcohol by 10 percent lead to a 32% reduction in alcohol-related deaths according to a study published today in Addiction.


French beer tax - a step in the right direction

The French government has increased tax on beer by 160%, which is a step in a right direction that will help to address alcohol related harm and improve public budget.