Jan de Grave / Director - Communications.
02/08/2012 | Economy
Concern spreads across Europe over UK Government plans for beer tax stamps
British beer lovers and pubs face the threat of going without some of Europe’s most famous and iconic beer brands, if controversial proposals from the UK’s customs and tax department (HMRC) for tax stamps on every bottle and can of beer see the light of day. The move has prompted brewers in several key EU states - Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, and Ireland - to raise their objections and concerns.
The UK plans, which would be prohibitively expensive for niche exporters in Europe to implement, could see hundreds of European beers tumble out of the UK market. Current concerns also raise the prospect of an EU legal challenge, as the publication of a legal opinion by the British Beer & Pub Association which represents British brewers, concluded that the proposals breech European trade rules.
According to Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, Secretary General of The Brewers of Europe: “Having to attach a specific tax stamp to every single beer container, potentially implying specific labelling lines and stock units just for one country, would create untold logistical problems and extra costs for Europe’s brewers, making it impossible for some of them, in particular the smaller and micro-brewers, to profitably export to the UK”.
Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, adds:
“There is growing disquiet about these proposals, both in the UK and across Europe. They would be bad for brewers, both in the UK and the rest of the EU, and also very bad for customer choice. They would also not work to tackle fraud."
“We want to work with HMRC on setting up a task force, with all parts of the industry and the tax authorities, to stamp out the problem of fraud. This is the right way to make progress, through stepping up of enforcement, and using intelligence and data that the industry is very willing to provide, and is already providing. We don’t want to see the Government pursuing measuring that are likely to result in a collision with EU competition rules and damage industry and consumers, taking beer brands off the shelves."
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