The European Beer Consumers Union (EBCU), Voice of the European beer consumers, expresses deep concern about the proposal, made by the Estonian health officials and Prime Minister Andrus Ansipin’s political party Eesti Reformierakond, to axe its sliding scale system on beer duty which allows tax reduction for small breweries. EBCU is worried that if the proposal will pass, it would force smaller breweries out of business, and reduce beer diversity and consumer choice in Estonia.
The proposal is also a turn in a completely different direction compared to other EU-countries such as Finland, Germany and Ireland, where small breweries are given tax reductions to promote traditional beers and create new jobs. With the upcoming parliament elections in Estonia the proposal could also be seen as populist, as the small breweries’ percentage of the whole beer market in Estonia is a tiny fraction.
In EBCU’s opinion, the right solution would be to keep the tax reduction but to make it progressive, which would help small breweries with a yearly production of over 4000 liters, which today is the limit for the tax reduction in Estonia. European directives allow member states to give breweries a progressive beer duty up to 200 000 hectoliters, 5000 times more than currently offered by Estonia.
The European Beer Consumers Union (EBCU) was formed in Bruges in May 1990 by three founding beer consumer organizations, representing Belgium, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. They have since been joined by similarly-minded national consumer groups from Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland and has a total membership count of nearly 150 000 members across the countries.
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