Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the European Confederation of Spirits Producers

  1.  I have been working for 3 years as Secretary General of CEPS, the European Confederation of Spirits Producers, which is the representative body of the EU spirits industry. CEPS members are 36 national spirits producers associations from the 15 EU Member States and the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, the Slovak Republic and Switzerland as well as a group of internationally-leading spirits producing companies.

  2.  The objectives of CEPS are:

    —  to promote and defend the interests of its members;

    —  to promote a better understanding of the contribution of the EU spirits industry in Europe;

    —  to encourage co-operation between spirits producers achieving common aims.

  3.  In short, the common main aims are as follows:

    —  to achieve better access to the industry's more than 200 markets world wide;

    —  to eradicate market distortions which are caused by the current tax systems applied in the EU Member States and reduce tax discrimination against spirits by reducing current levels of taxation of spirits, in particular where spirits taxation is excessive;

    —  to protect the EU's generic and geographic spirits denominations and maintain the excellent reputation of EU spirits world wide, which is based on the highest level of quality of traditional products;

    —  to promote sensible and moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks and to combat and discourage alcohol misuse in particular through industry self-regulation.

  4.  In order to achieve these aims, CEPS:

    —  has established a dialogue with the various EU institutions, in particular the relevant services of the European Commission, and international bodies such as the WTO and the WHO. Our exchange of information with these institutions and in particular with the European Commission is mutually advantageous. Due to our constructive and timely input CEPS established a very good reputation at the relevant services of the European Commission and is accepted as a knowledgeable interlocutor. We receive excellent support from the European Commission on the various issues of concern to the EU spirits industry and in particular on trade issues such as improved market access to third countries, which are of major importance for the Scotch whisky industry;

    —  co-operates closely with other international organisations in the alcoholic drinks sector (eg other EU associations of alcoholic beverages and spirits producers organisations from third countries) on matters of common concern and interest.

  5.  The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) plays an extremely important role in the EU spirits sector as well as in CEPS. For example, exports of EU spirits account to 4.5-5.0 billion Euro per year, of which Scotch Whisky generates about 2 billion Euro. The SWA contributes with human and financial resources considerably to the work of our Confederation. Representatives of the SWA act as Chairmen of Standing Committees as well as rapporteurs on many issues of concern to the EU spirits industry, and thus provide CEPS with much of the expertise, which is required for our work. The SWA's constructive approach and search for compromise on issues of diverging opinion is important for the functioning of our Confederation. Scotch Whisky's international reach brings weight to the EU negotiating position when the EU is seeking to secure CEPS' objectives for satisfactory trading conditions for EU spirits around the world.

  6.  The specific concerns and problems of the Scotch Whisky industry are outlined in the SWA submission to the House of Commons dated September 2000. They are well known in our Confederation, and as far as they have an EU or an international perspective CEPS does its utmost to solve these problems or at least to support the SWA efforts to do so.

European Confederation of Spirits Producers

October 2000

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