EU Holds Cider Drinkers Over a Barrel

Reuters/Luke MacGregor

The latest diktat from the European Union is a sobering example of the Eurocrats’ willingness to drown small businesses in Britain in a sea of red tape. By introducing a tax on British cider producers, Brussels is not only attacking the manufacturers, but the majority of British adults who enjoy cider, as well as scrumpy.

Currently the British government exempts cider producers who manufacture less than 12,000 pints a year from paying tax, in order to boost the growth of small scale businesses in the industry. This amounts to around 80 percent of cider producers. However, the European Commission has now ruled this tax emption is unlawful as all alcohol in the EU must be subjected to taxation.

The group which will be harmed in particular by this attack on the cider industry are the 60 percent of adult Britons who consume cider on a regular basis. Cider manufacturers currently exempt from this tax, are certain to pass on the hike in costs to the consumer. In effect, British citizens will be forced to pay higher prices, simply for enjoying one of our national drinks -cider.

This will have a knock-on effect on the small-scale cider producers themselves. By having to charge more per pint of cider, these small businesses will be undercut by their bigger competitors who churn out tasteless cider, such as Strongbow. Undoubtedly, the EU’s decision to overturn the tax exemption is a result of heavy lobbying from these large-scale cider manufacturers.

So what is the reason this booming British industry needs to be subjected to taxes from Brussels?  In short, the European Commission wants to penalise people for drinking. The Eurocrats are as eager as ever to tell people how to live their lives and cider is just the latest “bad” commodity to be discouraged. We saw this all before when the EU tried to introduce plain cigarette packaging.

The irony of the European Commission of President Jean-Claude Juncker introducing this tax knows no bounds. Juncker is infamous for slurping “cognac for breakfast” and has recently come under fire for his part in promoting Luxembourg as a tax haven for international business. Does this heavy drinker really not see the hypocrisy of him telling the Great British Public to drink less, and the cider manufacturers to pay more taxes?

The British government has two months to reply to the EU’s demand. The cider industry produces as much as 130 million gallons of cider each year. It is vital the government exempts as much of this from excessive taxation as possible. We can only hope the government sticks to its guns and protects our cider manufacturers, many of whom are small businesses in the South West of England.

Of course, if Britain was not a member of this nanny EU super-state, we would not have to fight these harmful policies day in, day out. The only way to permanently protect cider producers, cider drinkers and the freedom of choice for all Britons is to vote to Get Britain Out of the EU as soon as possible.

Luke Stanley, Research Executive at Get Britain Out