Sussex’s MEP met this week with European Economic Commissioner to make the case for Sussex’s small scale cider producers.
Anneliese, along with Clare Moody MEP, and representatives from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) raised with the Commissioner the importance of keeping the current UK duty exemption for small scale cider producers. 80% of the UK’s cider makers are small scale producers, such as hobbyists or farm-gate producers.
The current EU Directive for Excise Duty on Alcohol does not include a duty exception for small cider producers but the EU is currently undertaking a study into the operation of the Directive with a view to bring forward revisions.
During the meeting, the Commissioner announced that the EU will include a case study about UK producers in the study. In addition to that, the Commissioner confirmed that there is no plan to start infringement proceedings against the UK for exempting producers, which some say the EU Directive requires.
Anneliese said “I’m really pleased that the European Commission is taking our concerns about the impact of removing the current duty exemption seriously. I have continuously worked to ensure that the voices of small cider producers are heard and that the UK can keep its duty exemption. It is now time that the UK government steps up to the plate and does its bit in discussions about the revision of the directive to ensure that small cider producers are protected.”
She added “Small cider producing businesses in Sussex produce distinctive local ciders in an environmentally sustainable way. Real cider offers consumers a product that is totally different from mass-produced cider, and helps to sustain historic orchards that otherwise might not be maintained. It is an important rural tradition and we need to do everything in our power to support small local producers.”
Anneliese met with the Commissioner’s office last summer to discuss this issue, and the Commission has now agreed to review the Directive for Excise Duty on Alcohol. This is an opportunity to ensure better protection for the British cider industry and thereby guarantee that consumers can continue to enjoy a wide range of traditional, locally produced ciders.