Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Rt Hon Paul Boateng MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury


  The Commission is required, every two years, to examine the EU minimum rates of excise duty and report to the Council, where appropriate, with proposals for change. The first report, which appeared in 1995, made no proposals for change. Rather, it analysed the position, highlighted potential problems and concluded that consultation with national administrations and others was necessary to allow detailed analysis of the issues and the implications of any adjustments. Subsequent reviews, due at the end of 1996 and 1998 did not take place and we are still awaiting the report from the 2000 review.

  Over the years officials and Ministers continued to raise in meetings and privately with the Commission the urgent need to conclude these reports. Specifically, in the summer of 1997, the UK Ambassador to the EU wrote to the Commission, contributing to the proposed review of alcohol minimum rates. In 1999 officials met with Commissioner Bolkestein's Deputy Chef de Cabinet, and pressed him to make progress on the overdue review and report. At a meeting in May 2000 with the Head of Excise in the Commission's Taxation and Customs Directorate, officials stressed the importance of sticking to the timetable for producing the report. Again in May 2000, officials at a Commission Taxation Policy Group meeting reminded Commissioner Bolkestein of the considerable importance we attach to the Commission meeting its year end deadline for completion of the review. Later that month, the matter was raised once again at a meeting of fiscal attaches.

  More recently, at an ECOFIN meeting in March 2000 the Paymaster General welcomed the Commission's commitment to produce a report on time, and stressed that there should be no further slippage.

19 November 2001

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 27 November 2001