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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 10 July 2014

Taxation: Commission refers UK to Court of Justice for failure to comply with EU rules on marked fuel

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

Under EU rules, 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 a lower taxed fuel but private leisure boats must use fuel subject to a standard rate.

Currently, UK law does not require fuel distributors to have two separate fuel tanks to distinguish between the lower tax marked fuel and the fuel subject to the standard rate. As a result private leisure boat owners are often in a situation where they can only purchase marked fuel. As a consequence, private leisure boats may not pay the right amount of tax, as they purchase use fuel normally intended for fishing vessels. Not only does this go against EU excise rules, but it also puts private boats at risk of heavy penalties if they are checked by local authorities when they travel to another Member State.


The Commission sent a Reasoned Opinion to the UK on this matter in May 2013. Its failure to bring its legislation into compliance with EU law is the reason why the case is now being referred to the Court of Justice.

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:

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

And on infringements in July MEMO/14/470

Contacts :

Emer Traynor (+32 2 292 15 48)

Franck Arrii (+32 2 297 22 21)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail

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