Second only to Finland, Ireland ranked among the top three countries in the EU for ‘highest price levels’ followed by Sweden in eurostat’s latest EU price comparison for 2018.
Prices in Ireland for alcohol stood 177% higher than the EU average while those of the UK stood 129% higher in 2018. Top of the table Finland’s prices were 182% higher.
Ireland also ranks as the fourth-highest country in the EU for prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Denmark had the highest price level for food and non-alcoholic beverages in the EU in 2018, at 130% of the EU average, followed by Luxembourg and Austria (both 125%), Ireland and Finland (both 120%) and Sweden (117%).
Those enjoying the lowest price levels for alcohol included Hungary (77% of EU average), Bulgaria and Romania (both 74%).
“It is disappointing, yet unsurprising to see Ireland in the top tier of most expensive countries in the EU when it comes to the prices of food and drink,” commented the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland Chair and Corporate Affairs Director at Irish Distillers Rosemary Garth on the latest eurostat data, “The data also show that alcoholic beverages in Ireland are subject to the second-highest excise tax rate in Europe, behind only Finland.
“This is a tax that impacts everyone in the industry, from drinks and hospitality businesses to consumers. But what is limiting the innovation and entrepreneurship in our industry is the fact that Ireland has, individually, the highest excise tax on wine, second-highest on beer and third-highest on spirits.
“For example €11.92 of a 70cl bottle of Irish-produced whiskey, bought in an Irish off-licence, goes to the Government on excise tax; that’s before we consider the VAT that is applied. That figure is 75% less if you buy the same bottle of whiskey in Italy at €2.90.
“Similarly, excise on a pint of beer in Ireland is 1,000% more than Germany, Spain, Bulgaria and Luxembourg. We have the highest level on wine; 14 countries in Europe charge 0%.
“Our excise tax levels on alcohol are prohibitive and undermine our competitiveness, particularly given current political and economic considerations and uncertainty ahead of Brexit,” she continued, “It’s imperative that we are in line with our international counterparts and are not viewed as an expensive country in which to do business, live and visit.
“Together with industry, the Government should consider today’s eurostat data carefully ahead of Budget 2020 planning and in preparation for what could be a hard Brexit.
“Reducing high excise tax levels would provide a stimulus and protect and support businesses and jobs in the drinks and hospitality sector, Brexit-proofing this industry and ensuring we remain competitive in a post-Brexit Europe.”