Commission requests GREECE to amend its legislation granting reduced rates of excise duty to "Tsipouro" and "Tsikoudià"
The European Commission has formally requested Greece to amend its excise duty schemes for two specific alcoholic beverages – "Tsipouro" and "Tsikoudià".
Currently, Greece applies 50 percent of the ordinary excise duty rate applied on ethyl alcohol and a super-reduced rate to "Tsipouro" and "Tsikoudià" (around 6% of the ordinary excise duty rate) when these drinks are produced in bulk by so-called "two-day" distillers (vine growers or producers of other agricultural products).
EU rules provide that the same excise duty rate should apply for all products made with ethyl alcohol. Exemptions or derogations are provided explicitly by EU law and must be strictly interpreted. Greece does not have any derogation for "Tsipouro" or "Tsikoudià". The Commission believes that both schemes infringe the relevant EU excise duty legislation and also favour a domestically-produced spirit drink over spirit drinks produced in other Member States. This is an infringement of EU rules on the free movement of goods.
The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer Greece to the Court of Justice of EU.
"Tsipouro" and "Tsikoudia" are traditional alcoholic drinks which are produced in the north of Greece and in Crete. Both drinks have protected geographical indications.