Reacting to the news that the European Court of Justice has ruled against allowing consumers to buy drinks and cigarettes online, at lower duties, from other EC countries, West Midlands Labour MEP Michael Cashman said:
“We signed up to the EU single market and consumers should have the right to shop around across the EU.”
“But any other ruling would have caused chaos. It would have opened the door for modern day bootleggers and would have put local retailers out of business. Member states must retain the right to set their own duties and rates on alcohol and cigarettes.”
Mr Cashman said that this case had highlighted the issue of internet tax rules needed to be re-examined.
“On-line shopping did not exist a few years ago. Now it’s part of our daily lives. Millions of people buy on-line everyday. Its time that the rules were re-examined and simplified in order to protect consumers.”
However Michael defended the right of UK citizens to buy alcohol and cigarettes in the EU for personal use.
“We need to distinguish between those who are genuinely bringing over alcohol and tobacco for personal use and those who intend to sell these goods on.”
“Customs don’t always get it right. I am often contacted by people who have had goods confiscated. But it’s important to understand that relatively low volume bootlegging of alcohol and tobacco by individuals has the potential to cost the treasury millions of pounds of unpaid duties.”