Working Paper No. 37
Taxation of Alcohol and Consumer Attitude is the ECJ Sober?
Taxation of wine and beer has been the frequent subject of litigation before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the light of the second paragraph of Article 90.1 The distinction between beer and wine is recognized as being of capital importance by the European legislator. Directives 92/83/EEC and 92/84/EEC apply different rules to beer and wine in terms of excise duties.2 The popularity of these alcoholic beverages partially explains this interest, but it is their differences which are crucial to their tax treatment. In Case C-167/05, the Court was once again called to give answers to the question of taxation of wine and beer in the light of Article 90. Contrary to the Opinion of the Advocate General, the ECJ’s judgment of April 8, 2008, dismissed as unfounded the Commission’s action for infringement of Community law by Swedish law. According to the Commission’s allegations, Swedish tax regulations on alcohol discriminated against wine (an imported beverage) in favor of beer (a widely nationally-produced product).