The Indo is
today that the EU is looking at the issue of intra-EU taxation of alcohol and tobacco. The broad principle in the EU is that when goods are bought in one country for use in another, you pay the taxes due in the country of destination. There's an exemption to this for goods you transport yourself, which is mainly there, I think, so you don't need customs checkpoints between EU member states.
The Commission now seems to be concerned that all the Irish, Finns and Swedes bringing booze and ciggies back from Spain, Poland and Bulgaria is eroding the tax take and public health policies in their home countries. They're wondering if maybe the pay-at-destination rule should be introduced here.
Whatever about the continent, it is fairly doable for Ireland -- travellers are all coming in through ports and airports, and there are already customs checks there. You would just do away with the blue channel. Presumably they would set a duty-free allowance, and I'd say that'll be the same as for non-EU countries.
The fact that it's being driven as a health issue is what bothers me most. It's another front that the neo-prohibitionists have found to fight their war on. Even if it goes nowhere, it's another opportunity for press coverage.
Anyway, the consultation is
and open until 23rd April. I'll put together a submission from Beoir in due course.
You would have to wonder how much it would cost to police vs how much they could recover it customs? Bag weight is a big enough hurdle to discourage anyone from brining anything more than a couple of bottles? I guess smokes are another mater though.
33. Curtailing the free movement of alcohol and tobacco products purchased for personal use in another member state would be a grave violation of the principles on which the EU is built. Subjecting travellers to checks for undeclared goods would effectively end the Customs Union.
36. It is inappropriate to draw a direct connection between the minor issue of intra-EU transport of goods for personal use and wider public health. If a policy is introduced on the grounds that one affects the other, this must be measured and proven in order to be allowed to continue.
39. Any measure which introduces mandatory limits, and therefore checks on travellers, is problematic and ought to be avoided.
42. Removing the ability to transport goods freely for personal use will increase fraud. It cuts off a legal channel to EU citizens and makes it more likely that they will turn to illegal channels.
43. The Blue Channel is one of the EU's greatest achievements and these proposals will destroy it for no provable gain. The proposal appears to be a capitulation to the anti-consumer anti-alcohol lobby in particular, a group which consistently exaggerates Europe's alcohol health problems and whose solutions never seem to work sufficiently for them to be satisfied. If none of the other restrictions on alcohol price and availability produced successful outcomes it does not make sense to add more of the same.
Since Ireland is an island, with airports and ports the only means of international travel, Irish citizens are particularly susceptible to the inconveniences these restrictions will bring if introduced.