Booze Cruise by huangyinggok


									UK faces booze cruise court case
The European Commission is taking legal action
against Britain over cross-Channel shoppers,
despite a last minute concession from the

                                                          Around 30 people a year have goods
The EC says British Customs officers are too tough in
their treatment of consumers bringing cheap alcohol
and cigarettes into the country.

Goods are confiscated if the officers believe they have not been bought for personal

Dozens of people every year have goods and even their cars seized by customs.

Under EU rules, shoppers can buy beer, wine and cigarettes abroad, where taxes are
lower, and bring them into Britain without paying British excise duties.

Customs officers have seized goods and impounded              The UK's policy of seizing
cars when shoppers come back with large amounts of        goods and sometimes cars
goods to sell to friends and family.                      even for minor offences is

The Treasury, which says it loses about £3bn every        European Commission
year in excise duty revenue, insists the government is
only targeting smugglers.

In a statement announcing its decision to take the UK to court, the commission said:
"The UK's practices jeopardise the right of all EU consumers to buy goods in other
member states, excise duty paid, and bring these products home for their 'own use'
without any formalities and without having to pay taxes a second time.

"In particular, the commission considers the UK's policy of seizing goods and
sometimes cars even for minor offences is disproportionate.

"The latest action follows on earlier letters and a formal request to the UK to change
its law."
EU commissioner for taxation and customs Frits
Bolkestein said he "understood any member state's
need to fight fraud" but the commission "simply cannot
accept" such disproportionate penalties.

On Tuesday Chancellor Gordon Brown agreed Customs
should let first-time offenders keep their cars and
goods but pay evaded UK duty and a fine.

"It is accepted that we are talking about just 28 to 30       I said I was going to
cases a year and we are very close to a deal with the     appeal, but they just
commission," a government spokesman said.                 laughed

                                                          Michael Stone
"The chancellor has shown he is willing to make
concessions and there is not a lot more to be done."      'Customs seized my car'

Treasury Minister John Healey said the government would continue fighting its case
with Mr Bolkestein's successor, Latvian Ingrida Udre, who takes over responsibility for
customs and tax on 1 November.

And he hoped court action could be halted if the government re-submitted its case.

The case will go to the European Court of Justice

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