18th March 2015
South West MEP Ashley Fox has thrown his support behind a fight to stop small-scale cider-makers having to pay duty on their product.
At present traditional makers of cider and perry who produce small quantities on orchards or farms are exempt from paying duty on their products. However the EU has now challenged the waiver.
The European Commission has insisted the UK Government is acting illegally by not imposing tax. It asserts that the freedom granted to small scale producers breeches EU laws and amounts to unfair competition in the EU single market.
Mr Fox, leader of Britain's Conservative MEPs, said: "Small scale cider production a way of life in our area. However, nobody is making big money and profitability is marginal.
"This threat could see some very small operators fold. It could also drive production underground so the whole farm-cider tradition would move into the black economy.
"We don't need Brussels to tell people in Bodmin or Bridgwater what they should drink... or how much tax they should pay on it."