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Excise duty on wine, a recent written discussion at the Parliament

A written communication from MEP Manolis Kefalogiannis (PPE) and the Commission reads as follows.

Question from MEP Manolis Kefalogiannis:

Wine production is among the most outward-looking sectors of the Greek economy, the 2014 figures showing sales up by 15.5% in volume and 5.2% in value. However, the government decision to impose a special excise duty on wine, as an alternative to taxing private education, was taken without first properly consulting the bodies representing the sector and has placed many wineries in great difficulty, resulting in the suspension or cancellation of numerous contracts. Small wineries (producing up to 100 000 litres) will be particularly hard hit, being required to make a lump-sum advance payment of up to EUR 24 000 by the end of the month, leaving them without the necessary operational liquidity and jeopardising the existence of many undertakings otherwise capable of weathering the crisis.

In view of this:

— Can the Commission say to what extent the imposition of excise duty on wine was prescribed by the European Union?

— Should wineries receive reimbursement of excise duties on exports?

— Could special tax concessions be introduced for small wineries?

Answer given by Mr Moscovici on behalf of the Commission:

The Greek Government is addressing its fiscal challenges through a variety of measures which generate savings, while spreading the burden fairly across the society. The specific measures adopted by the government, while being assessed as part of the commitments undertaken by the government in the context of the European Stability Mechanism programme, remain the responsibility of the government.

Member States have to comply with the minimum rates of excise duty laid down in Council Directive 92/84/EEC (the ‘rates’ Directive). Provided that Member States comply with the provisions of Directive 92/83 (the ‘structures’ Directive) and Directive 92/84 ( 1 ) and national rules do not directly or indirectly discriminate in favour of domestic products, they may determine the rates of duty for each category of alcoholic beverage as they see fit. Directive 92/84 sets a zero minimum rate for wine. Moreover, Directive 92/83 provides that Member States may exempt from excise duties wine made by a private individual and consumed by the producer, members of his family or his guests, provided no sale is involved.

In 2006, the Commission made a proposal to adjust the minimum rates on alcoholic beverages. This proposal failed to obtain the necessary unanimity. At present the Commission is conducting a study of the directive 92/83 and on its functioning in the existing legal framework. This will include issues such as the impact of reduced rates and exemptions. Any amendment to EU legislation must be agreed unanimously in the Council on the basis of a Commission proposal.

Read the original source here.