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Defending the right to shop abroad for cheaper cigarettes and alcohol

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Defending the right to shop abroad for cheaper cigarettes and alcohol

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After several years of arguing, the European Commission is finally taking Britain to the Court of Justice on this.

Brussels says the UK is applying disproportionate penalties to people who bring in these goods from other member states: The measures being applied by customs officials are illegal; Freedom of movement rules in the EU say it is all right for these day-trippers to sell what they get on a not-for-profit basis to their friends and families. London and Brussels differ over the interpretation of the rules that allow Britons to go on “booze cruises” to France to escape high duties and tax at home. The penalties described as excessive include seizures of goods and cars. Britain argues that the amounts involved can not possibly be for personal use only — it is smuggling. To help customs detect who is a smuggler, the Commission recommends that people be able to bring back: 90 litres of wine, 110 litres of beer and 800 cigarettes. British officials say their allowances are either much higher or in line with the recommendations.