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EU blocks low-duty online booze and fags

Booze cruising set to continue

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The European Court of Justice has ruled that boozers and smokers looking to get cut-price deals from countries with lower rates of duty will will not be able to buy the stuff online, the BBC reports.

Rather, snout and alcohol-hungry punters will have to continue the time-honoured "booze cruise" tradition and "accompany the goods back themselves". The judges declared that "only products acquired and transported personally by private individuals are exempt from excise duty in the member state of importation".

Specifically, the court had been asked to interpret an EU directive which states: "As regards products acquired by private individuals for their own use and transported by them...excise duty shall be charged in the member state in which they are acquired."

The request came from a Dutch court "after a Dutch wine club objected to being charged duty on a lorry-load of wine delivered from France". The entire matter hinged on the interpretation of the phrase "transported by them".

The court's ruling "will come as a relief to the Treasury and ferry firms", the BBC notes. The former already loses more than £1bn a year because of UK citizens availing themselves of the right to shop abroad for low-duty drink and cigarettes, while the latter feared the opportunity to buy 600 Benson and Hedges and 20 crates of fine continental lager from the comfort of your PC might hit the booze cruise trade. ®

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