Barroso praises self-regulation but Brewers of Europe worries on tax

Barroso praises self-regulation but Brewers of Europe worries on tax

The president of the European Commission, Jose-Manuel Barroso, has reiterated his support for self-regulation in the alcoholic drinks sector, but brewers are still worried about duty tax hikes in the region.

Speaking at the Brewers of Europe gala yesterday evening (22 November), Barroso said that he is wary of promoting regulation that might shackle businesses. His comments appear to reaffirm the Commission's commitment to industry self-regulation on alcoholic drinks.

On beer specifically, Brewers of Europe today quoted Barroso as saying: "I would like to commend the efforts of your sector to introduce self-regulation to promote responsible beer advertising across Europe." He added: "Initiatives like this and pro-active involvement of industry representations are an excellent example of industry working with regulators to make legislation truly smart.” 

However, Barroso did not signal any end to the Commission's support for duty tax increases as a means of curbing consumption of alcoholic drinks across the European Union. Big brewers in particular face falling consumption across Europe and many have apportioned at least part of the blame to higher tax.

Between 2008 and 2010, beer consumption in Europe fell by 8%, according to Brewers of Europe figures release in September this year. Meanwhile, over the same period, the number of jobs linked to the production and sale of beer fell by 12%, or 226,000.

There is concern that more job cuts are likely at major brewers if economic conditions do not improve in 2012. Last night, Brewers of Europe held a panel session between brewers and EU policymakers to discuss issues in the sector.

SABMiller’s Europe CEO, Alan Clark, said: “The brewing sector has weathered the storm so far, but policymakers must be aware of the impact that further economic downturn combined with dramatically increasing taxes on beer may have.”

Click play, below, for edited extracts from yesterday's meeting.