Are we paying too much for alcohol?

Almost €12 from every 70cl bottle of whiskey sold in Ireland goes to the state - compared to €3.65 in Germany

Are we paying too much for alcohol?

Julien Behal/PA Archive/PA Images

Research commissioned by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has found that Ireland pays the second highest excise rate on alcohol in the EU.

Ireland has the highest wine excise in the EU, we're the second highest when it comes to beer, and have the third highest spirits excise - according to the research carried out by Dublin City University economist Tony Foley.

The study states that Finland is the only country with a higher charge.

The Irish rate is 150% higher than the average of 24 of the other 27 EU member states - and our beer excise is 1,000% higher than Germany’s

"Ireland’s drinks industry employs 92,000 people nationwide; the wider hospitality sector employs 204,000 people, or 10% of the Irish workforce in both cities and rural towns and villages. The hospitality sector purchases €1.1bn worth of Irish inputs annually and exports €1.25bn worth of produce every year. Today’s report shows definitively that Ireland’s excise duty rates are punitive and completely out of kilter with our European peers," DIGI commented.

If Ireland applied Germany’s rate of excise to a pint of lager served here, it would be 5 cents instead of 55 cents, a direct reduction of 50 cents. In an Irish off-license, almost €12 from every 70cl bottle of whiskey purchased in an off-license goes to the state, compared to €3.65 in Germany, according to the report.

Mr Foley joined Vincent Wall on Breakfast Business to discuss the report.

"If tax was the primary determinant of adverse consumption patterns, even in terms of binge drinking ... we probably would have solved our drinking problem years ago," he commented - responding to a question on the public health implications of lowering the price of alcohol.

He added that while Irish craft beer companies are enjoying exponential growth, he thinks an excise cut could foster their growth.

As the entrepreneurial capacity and demand exist for craft beers, he believes that we are "left with the question - what might it be?" if rates were lower.