The European Court of Justice has cleared Greece of breaking European Union (EU) excise rules by charging 50% less duty on its national drink ouzo than on other spirits.

The European Commission claimed that in this way, Greece was effectively discriminating against imported spirits, even though EU excise legislation explicitly allows it to charge a reduced duty on ouzo.

Brussels felt that Greece was applying this right so vigorously that it brought itself into conflict with EU treaty provisions guaranteeing free trade between member states, and that this overruled the directive concerned (1992/83).

The court, however, disagreed, effectively blocking the Commission from using this argument in the future to oppose other excise duty discounts.