Molly Scott Cato, the South West’s Green MEP, has issued a challenge to the region’s MPs, urging them to sign an Early Day Motion calling for a duty exemption for small-scale cider producers. The EDM, which has gained cross-party support, follows the announcement earlier this year that the European Commission has ordered the UK government to amend its excise duty scheme exempting such producers . The EDM urges the Government to reject the European Commission’s request and maintain the current position.
Molly today met with representatives of real ale campaign group CAMRA, who are in Strasbourg lobbying on behalf of small scale cider producers . They expressed their concerns to her about the impacts of the removal of the exemption. She said:
“Cider production is an important local industry in the South West and such a move threatens the viability of many small scale producers. I have already written to the Commission asking them to justify why it is not possible to maintain a tax exemption to small scale producers . It’s quite clear that small businesses and producers will take the greatest hit from this ruling and it will allow the large corporate producers to further dominate and monopolise the cider market. Ultimately it means threats to jobs and livelihoods and threats to consumers through less variety, choice and lower quality.
The duty exemption applies to producers who make less than 70 Hectolitres per year, which is 33 pints a day. CAMRA report that small scale producers typically earn around £10,000 a year from cider and that a tax of £2,700 would have a serious impact on production. They say 80% of Britain’s 500+ cider makers are small scale producers, and the removal of the excise duty exemption would have a devastating effect on the industry. Dr Scott Cato concluded:
“I hope those who represent the West Country in Westminster will show their support for both producers and consumers by signing this EDM.”
 From European Commission website:
Taxation: Commission requests the UNITED KINDGOM to amend its excise duty legislation granting exemption for cider and perry made by small producers
The European Commission has today formally requested the United Kingdom to amend its excise duty scheme that exempts from duty cider and perry made by small domestic producers. This exemption concerns producers, whose production does not exceed 70 hectolitres over a period of 12 consecutive months and who make such products for sale.
EU excise duty rules oblige Member States to levy an excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages. There are no provisions which would provide for an exception to the general obligation to levy excise duty in respect of cider and perry made for sale by small domestic producers. The UK excise duty scheme therefore contravenes EU legislation, which was unanimously agreed and which does not allow for such exemption in any of the Member States.
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 the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice of the European Union.