On April 11, the European Commission launched a call for feedback on the EU framework governing excise duty rates for alcohol products.
According to the current rules on excise duty in the EU, agreed by the member states, minimum rates have been set for alcohol products.
But the rules on minimum alcohol excise duty rates have not been updated since 1992.
Therefore, current alcohol duty rates do not reflect inflation, the evolution of the market, consumption patterns or growing public health concerns.
Since the rules require the Commission to regularly evaluate and report to the European Council on the implementation, the Commission has launched the call for evidence and the public consultation. The feedback gathered will feed into a wider evaluation of the current framework that aims to identify and address potential issues.
The Commission particularly seeks feedback from different stakeholders with day-to-day experience of the rules governing minimum duty rates, such as businesses, excise and public health authorities, academic experts, NGOs and professional organisations. Citizens are welcome to provide feedback as well.
The general call for evidence and a more targeted public consultation can be accessed, here.
Both will remain open till July 8, 2022.
The potential of alcohol taxation in the European Region
Persistently high levels of alcohol harm create a heavy social, economic, and health burden in Europe. For example, one in every 10 deaths in the entire region is caused by alcohol every year. Especially young people in Europe are heavily affected by the harm caused by the alcohol industry. Nearly one in every four deaths among young adults aged 20 to 24 years is due to the products and practices of the alcohol industry.
According to a study by the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe’s Advisory Council on Innovation and Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD Advisory Council), alcohol remains easily affordable and has become more affordable, not less, in the European Region.
Alcohol taxes have been under-utilized as a public health measure, constituting on average only 5.7%, 14.0%, and 31.3% of the retail prices of wine, beer, and liquor, respectively.
The NCD Advisory Council study on found that 132,906 lives can be saved if European countries introduced a minimum level of 15% tax on the retail price per unit of alcohol, regardless of the type of alcoholic beverage.
The WHO Europe NCD Advisory Council launched a signature initiative on alcohol taxation, informed by the above study.
Communities around the European region are requesting change. They demand the alcohol industry pays for the harm their products and practices cause, instead of subsidizing their marketing and Big Tobacco-style lobbying campaigns.
In the media release reacting to the signature initiative Movendi International proposed four recommendations to accelerate alcohol taxation development:
- The World Health Organization should develop a recommendation for a minimum tax share of the alcohol price. This should be accompanied by technical guidance for Member States on how to develop such public health oriented alcohol taxation.
- The World Health Organization in Europe, together with the European Commission, the OECD, and others should develop investment cases for alcohol taxation to illustrate the return on investment from public health oriented alcohol taxation and facilitate support from ministries of finance.
- A paradigm shift in alcohol policy in general and alcohol taxation in particular is urgently needed: away from policy making in the interest of the alcohol industry; to a focus on public health and sustainable development in alcohol policy making.
- Institutions with health promotion taxation expertise should form an inter-agency joint initiative for alcohol taxation. The WHO, UNDP, World Bank, OECD, and others should come together to pool resources, unlock synergies and facilitate capacity building of countries in the European Region and around the world for public health orientend alcohol taxation.