Small cider producers in the UK would be affected by the move

Small cider producers in the UK would be affected by the move

The European Commission has threatened legal action against the UK government, demanding that it scraps rules exempting from excise duty the sale of cider and perry made by small producers.

The Commission claims the exemption breaks EU excise duty legislation and has given the UK two months to respond, or potentially launch a case at the European Court of Justice (ECJ). It could order the UK to comply, and levy daily recurring fines until any breach in EU law has been resolved.

The excise duty exemption covers manufacturers producing 70 hectolitres ore below over 12 consecutive months. A Commission note said: “EU excise duty rules oblige member states to levy an excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages. There are no provisions… for an exception…in respect of cider and perry made for sale by small domestic producers.”

Separately, the ECJ is currently considering a move by Scotland to introduce a minimum unit price on alcohol in the country, after a case involving trade bodies and the Scottish Government was referred by Edinburgh's Court of Session last year.