Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Rt Hon Paul Boateng MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury
REPRESENTATIONS TO THE COMMISSION REGARDING
EU MINIMUM RATES REVIEWS
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