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Common provisions which apply to all products subject to excise duties under EU law are set out in Council Directive 2008/118/EC.

This directive will be abrogated and replaced by Directive (EU) 2020/262 which most provisions will enter into effectas of 13 February 2023.

The future directive contains a number of measures to streamline and simplify the processes covering export and import interaction of excise products and B2B transactions namely. It aims to align the EU excise and customs procedures, in order to improve the freedom of movement for excise goods released for consumption in the single market while ensuring that the correct tax is collected by Member States.

Excise duties on alcohol are regulated through two main pieces of EU legislation.

i) The Directive 92/83/EEC on excise on duties sets out:

  • The structures of excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages

  • The categories of alcohol and alcoholic beverages subject to excise duty

  • The basis on which the excise duty is calculated

It also includes special provisions such as reduced rates for small breweries and small distilleries, certain products and geographical regions.

On 29 July 2020, the Council a series of new rules (Council Directive 2020/1151) amending Directive 92/83/EEC on the harmonization of the structures of excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages, which will be applicable from 1 January 2022.

ii) Directive 92/84/EEC sets out minimum rates that must be applied to each category of alcoholic beverage, as well as reduced rates for certain Greek, Italian and Portuguese regions.

EU legislation only sets harmonized minimum rates.

This means that EU countries are free to apply excise duty rates above these minima, according to their own national needs.

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