Revision of Directive 92/83 on Excise Structures on alcohol

There is a legislative proposal on the table to amend Directive 92/83/EEC on the structures of the excise duty on alcohol and alcohol beverages which is widening the existing gap between small, independent distillers and small brewers. 

The Council negotiations continue and a political agreement between Member States may come any time soon but this file should not be closed without ensuring that small and independent distillers receive equal opportunities and are granted fair treatment in terms of reduced excise rates compared to their competitors on the market.

Currently, there is a huge discrepancy regarding the treatment of small distillers as compared to small cider producers or small brewers. For instance, small brewers can produce 1000 times the amount of pure alcohol that start-up distillers can produce before the full excise rates apply. The ongoing revision of the EU Excise Structures Directive presents a unique, timely opportunity to address this situation and to provide small distillers with the same benefits and opportunities for growth as provided to small brewers and cider makers. Why not support all of the SME community in this sector? 

The benefits already provided to small beer and cider producers should be extended to craft distillers - namely by introducing a reduced excise duty option for small commercial distillers, in line with the proposed new benefit for cider and the existing benefit for small brewers.  Furthermore, low-strength spirit-based drinks should be allowed to benefit from reduced excise duty rates, in the same way as low-strength beer.

Let's update the 1992 EU excise Structures Directive to:

  • Close the widening discriminatory gap in terms of reduced excise duty rates that is opening up between craft cider-makers/brewers on the one hand, and craft distillers on the other. This gap is caused by fact that the thresholds under which craft cider-makers and brewers can benefit from reduced rate are so much higher than the threshold under which a craft distiller can benefit from a reduced rate.
  • Make use of the existing provision in Article 22.5 to provide low-strength spirit-based drinks the benefit of reduced excise duty rates as a fiscal incentive to encourage innovation and the development of lower-strength products.
  • In Section V, replace wording on ‘Ethyl Alcohol’ with ‘Spirit Drinks’.
  • Do more to tackle illicit alcohol by agreeing that a Commission report should be prepared so that better tools can be developed to tackle the illicit market.