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Alcohol and alcoholic beverages: harmonisation of the structure of excise duties

The present directive harmonises the structure for excise duties on alcoholic beverages and alcohol contained in other products to ensure the establishment of the internal market.

ACT

Council Directive 92/83/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the harmonisation of the structures of excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages.

SUMMARY

The excise duty levied on beer will be fixed by reference to the number of hectolitre/degrees of finished product.

Member States may divide beers into categories consisting of no more than 4 degrees Plato and may charge the same rate of duty per hectolitre on all beers falling within each category.

Member States may apply reduced rates of excise duty to beer brewed by independent small undertakings provided that those rates:

  • are not applied to undertakings producing more than 200 000 hl of beer per year;
  • are not more than 50 % below the standard national rate of excise duty.

Reduced rates introduced by Member States must apply equally to beer delivered into their territory from small breweries situated in other Member States.

Member States may apply reduced rates, which may fall below the minimum rate, for beer with an actual alcoholic strength by volume not exceeding 2.8 % vol.

The excise duty levied on still wine and sparkling wine and on other fermented beverages and intermediate products will be fixed by reference to the number of hectolitres of finished product.

Member States will be required to levy the same rate of excise duty within each category of alcoholic beverages.

Member States may apply reduced rates of excise duty to any type of wine and other fermented beverages, except for beer, with an actual alcoholic strength by volume not exceeding 8.5 % vol.

Member States may apply a single reduced rate of duty to intermediate products with an actual alcoholic strength by volume not exceeding 15 % vol. provided that:

  • the reduced rate is not more than 40 % below the standard national rate;
  • the reduced rate is not less than the standard rate applied to still wine and to other still fermented beverages.

The excise duty levied on alcohol and alcoholic beverages will be fixed per hectolitre of pure alcohol at 20°C. This will be calculated by reference to the number of hectolitres of pure alcohol.

Reduced rates may be applied to ethyl alcohol produced by small distilleries. However, those rates may not be more than 50 % below the standard national rate of excise duty.

Member States must apply any such reduced rates equally to ethyl alcohol originating from small distilleries in other Member States.

Subject to certain limits, reduced excise duty rates may also be applied to spirits with an actual alcoholic strength by volume not exceeding 10 % volume and to French rum and Greek ouzo.

Where an alcoholic beverage is withdrawn from the market because its condition renders it unfit for human consumption, Member States may refund the excise duty paid.

The products covered by this Directive will be exempt from excise duty where they:

  • are denatured in accordance with the requirements of any Member State;
  • are denatured and used for the manufacture of products not intended for human consumption;
  • are used for the production of vinegar, medicines or flavours for the preparation of foodstuffs.

The Directive provides for the mutual recognition of denaturing formulae and sets up a system for exchanging the requisite information and for combating any abuse of the exemption arrangements.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 92/83/EEC10.11.199231.12.1992OJ L 316 of 31.10.1992

RELATED ACTS

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee of 26 May 2004 on the rates of excise duty applied on alcohol and alcoholic beverages (presented pursuant to Article 8 of Council Directive 92/84/EEC on the approximation of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages) [COM(2004) 223 - Not published in the Official Journal].
The report examines the status of Community legislation in the field of excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages, which entered into force on 1 January 1993 and has not been amended since. The Commission analyses the effect of the current system on the proper functioning of the internal market, the competition between the different categories of alcoholic drinks induced by different rates of excise duty, the real current value of the minimum rates of duty set in 1992 and the wider objectives of the Treaty on European Union. It concludes that greater convergence is needed between the rates of excise duty applied in different Member States, so as to reduce distortions of competition and fraud. In view of the highly disparate opinions of Member States on the appropriate level of minimum rates, and since any change would require unanimous agreement, the Commission refrains from formulating proposals at this stage. Instead it intends to launch a broad debate in the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee. On the basis of the outcome of this debate, the Commission will decide whether or not to submit proposals on some or all of the issues raised in the report.

 
Last updated: 08.12.2006
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