European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 10 July 2014

Taxation Commission refers Portugal to Court of Justice over excise duty rules for cigarettes

The European Commission has decided to refer Portugal to the Court of Justice for failing to change its excise duty rules related to the marketing of cigarettes. In Portugal, a time limit for the sale of cigarettes is set down, linked to the fiscal stamp on the packaging. The design of the tax markings in Portugal changes regularly and a new tax rate frequently applies with the new marking. Cigarettes cannot be sold any later than 3 months after the end of the year that they are released for consumption.

Under EU law (Directive 2008/118/EC), excise duty on tobacco products must be charged at the rate applicable on the date on which they are released for consumption. There is no provision under EU legislation which allows Member States to add supplementary duty to this release date tax rate, or to limit the distribution of tobacco products for fiscal reasons.

By applying the sales and marketing prohibition Portugal implies that all cigarettes bearing the old tax markings and unsold at the end of the transitional period were released in excessive quantity. Such a presumption is inadmissible under Court of Justice case law. The Portuguese sales and marketing prohibition is clearly disproportionate to any fraud tackling objective. It also runs contrary to the provisions of Directive 2008/118/EC, under which Member States must ensure that tax markings do not create obstacles to the free movement of excise goods.

The failure of Portugal to comply with these rules results in situations whereby operators are not allowed to sell cigarettes, which were taxed and which comply with all requirements for a free circulation on the Single Market.


The reason behind the decision to refer the matter to the Court is the failure by Portugal to bring its legislation into line, following a Reasoned Opinion sent by the Commission in June 2012 and an additional Reasoned Opinion of May 2013.

For press releases on infringement proceedings in the areas of taxation and customs see

For the most up to date general information on infringement proceedings initiated against Member States, see

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/12/12 and on infringements in July MEMO/14/470


Emer Traynor ( 32 2 292 15 48)

Franck Arrii ( 32 2 297 22 21)

For the public Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e mail

Eu regulation of e-cigarettes a step closer ·

Cigarettes online Blog Archive Buy export cigarettes online maryland
A person smokes an electronic cigarette, or e cigarette. Image Tim Ireland/PA Wire/Press Association Images

REGULATION OF ELECTRONIC cigarettes and a ban on ‘slim’ cigarettes could be on the way following a vote by MEPs today.

Nessa Childers MEP said there had been a strong vote today in her Public Health Committee on the EU tobacco control directive, “despite the massive industry lobbying against the law”.

“As co chair of the ‘MEPs against Cancer’ forum in the European Parliament, I have campaigned and pressed for this anti tobacco legislation for a long time,” she said.

I am delighted that today we voted against the massive negative industry lobbying campaign which tried to try to delay, block and defeat this legislation.

The vote today called for pictorial health warnings covering 75 per cent of a cigarette package, front and back, as mandatory in the EU.

The MEPs also voted to regulate e cigarettes, which Childers said “need sensible regulation”, as well as a ban on slim cigarettes.

The proposals will go to a plenary vote and if they pass this, will go on to negotiations with member states of the council. A spokesperson for Childers said they were “pretty confident” the parliament vote will be strong on the proposals, but that the battle is against the member states.

The hope is that the changes, if they are approved, would come into effect between 2015 and 2016. However, this depends on whether the council and parliament can come to an agreement on the proposals before the end of the life of the current parliament.

The new EU Tobacco Products Directive, under which these proposals come, will replace the rules that were put in place in 2001.

They look at regulating products which do not contain tobacco but which are closely linked to smoking, such as electronic cigarettes and herbal cigarettes, as well as labelling and packaging of tobacco products, additives, internet sales and tracking and tracing of these products.

Read Reilly facing EU battle on banning of menthol cigarettes> Read Reilly not convinced that electronic cigarettes are safe, orders review> Already a fan? Connect below…

Get breaking news from via Facebook.
Just click Like.