Taxation: Commission refers Hungary to the Court for failing to apply the minimum EU excise duty on cigarettes

cigarettes

(Paweł Czerwiński, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The Commission decided today to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice for failing to apply the minimum EU threshold for excise duty on cigarettes set out in EU rules on manufactured tobacco.

Hungary was allowed a long transitional period until 31 December 2017 in order to gradually increase the excise duty on cigarettes and reach the required minimum threshold. Currently, the excise duty applied by Hungary remains below the EU threshold, generating distortions of competition with other Member States and is at odds with EU health protection policy.

Common EU rules (Council Directive 2011/64/EU), which aim to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market and a high level of protection for human health, require Member States to charge an excise duty on cigarettes of at least 60% of the applicable weighted average retail price of cigarettes and not lower than €90 per 1,000 cigarettes. The 60% rule does not apply if the excise duty level is at least €115 euros per 1,000 cigarettes.

Background

The European Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Hungary on 24 January 2019, followed by a reasoned opinion on 6 June 2019. Since Hungary has not yet complied, the Commission is now bringing the matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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