Evaluation on excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages

Europe has the highest levels of alcohol consumption in the world and alcohol-related harm is a major public health concern in the EU. In this regard, the sale or consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages in the EU is governed by EU legislation.

Under Council Directive 92/84/EEC, EU Member States can freely set excise duties according to their own national preferences, but must apply at least a minimum rate of excise duty to alcohol, with rates set for different categories of alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, and spirits.

Most of EU excise duty rules for alcohol and alcoholic beverages that are currently in force have been adopted in the early 1990s, and with the exception of the changes in tax structure rules introduced by Directive 2020/1151, these have never been amended.

A comprehensive evaluation is therefore required to assess the validity and effectiveness of the minimum rates of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages, and the basis of taxation (volume or alcoholic content of the beverages), to ascertain whether they still respond to policy needs and objectives, despite the evolution of market and consumption patterns.

The European Commission has initiated a consultation exercise to gather the views of relevant stakeholders on the minimum excise duty rates for alcohol and alcoholic beverages. Feedback is sought in particular from stakeholders who have a concrete experience with the day-to-day functioning of the Directive, from various perspectives.

Views are sought on:

  • the affordability, demand and market developments for the range of alcohol products in Member States;
  • the policy framework and needs, covering both national and EU rules.

Stakeholders’ feedback to the consultation will provide qualitative and quantitative data to support the assessment of the fitness for purpose of the current legislation, and therefore will be duly taken into consideration as part of the evaluation.

Authorities in Member States, including both excise and public health authorities, sectoral professional organisations covering production, import and distribution, and retail of alcoholic beverages, the hospitality sector, economic operators in related sectors, public health experts, NGOs, civil society, citizens and consumers are invited to partake in this online consultation and provide their input by July 4, 2022.