Over 400 people joined top European brewing executives and political leaders Tuesday to debate tough challenges for the beer sector and the millions of jobs it supports, including taxation, regulation and responsible drinking.
Organised in collaboration with the Belgian Brewers and the fine cooks association Euro-Toques International, Alberto da Ponte, president of The Brewers of Europe said „The gala highlighted the brewing sector’s contribution to the European economy in terms of employment and tax revenues and on issues like community involvement and responsible drinking. We also had a frank discussion about key policy issues, such as the need to get the tax framework right.”
President Van Rompuy set the tone for the evening in his address, saying, „Beer is culture and tradition. But beer is also economy.” He went on to note that „Beer plays [also] an important social role, it is a symbol of hospitality and conviviality.” Highlighting the importance of beer and beer producers for Europe, the President said that they are cultural ambassadors for Europe and deliver a major contribution to the economy. He also noted that they strengthen social cohesion, in a responsible way. Emphasising the importance of competitiveness and innovation, Mr. Van Rompuy concluded that „The EU will further invest in sound policies to give you the tools that you need to further flourish and grow in Europe. We will continue to do this on the basis of dialogue and discussion.”
„Governments and all associated with the brewing sector need to work together to address difficult challenges,” Heineken CEO Mr. van Boxmeer told the Beer Serves Europe gala. „These include reducing our carbon footprint, understanding our role in Europe and beyond, partnerships to address responsible drinking, and setting wise economic policies.”
On taxes, the roundtable discussed an important study by PricewaterhouseCoopers published last week which shows the impact of further potential increases in excise taxes. A 20% tax increase could kill tens of thousands of the millions of jobs that the beer sector supports, it says.
„Tax increases would hit brewers hard – including the 1.8 million European hospitality jobs they support – just as the economy is striving to emerge from a deeply damaging recession,” said Alberto da Ponte. The study also says that increases in excise tax revenue are more than offset by decreases in the revenues obtained by Government. The CEO of Duvel cautioned against hurting a job-rich sector steeped in tradition, „Most of Europe’s brewers are SMEs producing traditional local products, some with centuries of heritage,” said Michel Moortgat. „We need to protect this engine of innovation and job-creation that is so crucial.”
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