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by | December 16, 2011 | Uncategorized

***Update October 2012*** Food taxation in Europe: Evolution of the legislation

More and more countries adopt stricter food taxation and food fiscal measures, as a response to the obesity epidemics and the financial crisis. This article will be updated regularly with the evolution of the legislation in EU Member States.

Overview of the discussions and/or implementation of such measures in European countries

In January 2010, the Romanian Government announced the possible introduction of a tax that would impact on foods that are high in fats, salt, sugars and additives. EPHA sent an Open Letter to the Romanian Government expressing support as a bold move to tackle the epidemic of overweight, obesity and diet-related diseases in Europe.
Unfortunately, the initiative did not go through.

In 2011, Denmark introduced the first worldwide tax on saturated fats (meat, cheese, butter, margarine, snacks, etc.) equivalent to 2.15 euros per kg of saturated fat. By implementing this tax, Denmark intends to decrease the consumption levels by 4%. Unfortunately, Denmark repelled the tax just only after one year of its implementation. See our other article on the subject here.

From 2011, Finland restored taxes on sweets (candies, chocolate, cocoa-based products, ice cream, ice lollies etc.) that existed until 1999 (0.75 euros per kg). The existing taxes on soft drinks was also increased (from 4.5 cents to 7.5 cents per litre)and its scope was widened to cover further categories of beverages. Following on from the Danish implementation of the first tax on saturated fat, Finland (and Sweden) is considering implementing a similar tax.

In September 2011, Hungary increased a tax on a series of unhealthy products: certain soft drinks, energy drinks, pre-packed sweetened products, salty snacks and condiments. EPHA sent an Open Letter to the Hungarian government expressing its support for the initiative. It is expected that the money raised will be used to fund the national healthcare system that has been strongly affected by the economic crisis.

On 24 August 2011, the French Government announced the possible introduction of a tax to apply on sugar-sweetened drinks (sodas in French). EPHA Press Release (in FR and in EN). In a surprising move, members of the French Parliament not only voted (on 21 October 2011) in favour of the pre-discussed tax but also doubled the initial threshold and included artificially sweetened drinks that were previously exempted of the scope. Thus, from 1st January 2012, a rate of €7.16 per hectolitre will apply to all beverages with added sugar or with artificial sweeteners (fruit juices with added sugars, water, carbonated drinks containing added sugar).

In September 2011, the Health Minister of Ireland, Dr James Reilly, announced that he was considering introducing a sugar tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. Strongly affected by diet-related diseases, Ireland counts notably more than 180 000 people with diabetes amongst its population. EPHA sent an Open Letter to Minister Reilly encouraging him to take this initiative forward.

A tax on sugar and chocolate is implementd in Norway.

The UK is also discussing the introduction of a tax similar to the Danish fat tax. David Cameron, UK Prime Minister announced early October 2011, “this is something we should look at“[[http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/oct/04/uk-obesity-tax-david-cameron?newsfeed=true]]. In September 2012, Liberal Democrats will organise a conference devoted to the issue of taxation where the introduction of a fizzy drinks tax will be discussed.

While the Italian Minister for Health, Renato Balduzzi, was considering, in August 2012, the introduction of a tax to apply on soft drinks, similarly to the French measure, this possibility was postponed until further notice.

Further information

In December 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that nations consider taxing foods high in fat, sugar and salt to encourage people to make healthier food choices.

In September 2011, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, also called, at the High Level Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases, for taxes to be introduced on unhealthy foods.

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