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European Commission - Press release

Taxation: Commission refers Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for incorrect application of the rules on marked fuel

Brussels, 26 November 2014

The European Commission has decided to refer Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for not properly applying the rules on fiscal marking on fuel.

Under EU rules on fiscal marking for fuels, fuel that can benefit from a reduced tax rate has to be marked by coloured dye. Fishing vessels for example are allowed to benefit from fuel subject to a lower tax rate but private boats must use fuel subject to a standard rate. Currently, Ireland breaches EU law by allowing the use of marked fuel for the purposes of private pleasure craft. As a consequence, private leisure boats cannot only use fuel intended for fishing vessels but also risk heavy penalties if they travel to another Member State and the boat is inspected by the local authorities.

Moreover, it cannot be considered that Ireland has properly implemented its obligation to apply a minimum level of taxation in accordance with Directive 2003/96/EC. While Irish law requires craft owners to pay to the Revenue the difference between the tax paid on marked gas oil and that due if the gas oil had been charged at the standard rate, the low number of tax returns indicate that the minimum level of taxation is not applied.


On 22 April 2014, the Commission sent a request taking the form of a reasoned opinion to Ireland on the subject in question (MEMO/14/293). The European Commission officially asked the Irish authorities to amend the relevant legislation. As there have been no changes to the legislation, the Commission has decided to bring the matter before the Court of Justice.

For more information

For press releases on infringement proceedings in the areas of taxation and customs see:

For the most up-to-date general information on infringement proceedings initiated against Member States, see:

On the November infringement package decisions, see MEMO/14/2130

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/12/12


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