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Sugar Tax: Italian Government approves amendment, taking effect July 1

The rule splits the government. Foreign Minister Tajani: "It puts businesses in difficulty, Parliament's wishes should be respected"

For more than a year he held sway in government discussions. Any decision would have displeased one political party or in any case would have split public opinion in two. In the end, after various postponements, the italian government decided: the Sugar Tax will happen. The tax on sweetened drinks will come into force from 1 July 2024, four years after the first draft, introduced in the 2020 budget law but never entered into force.

Government's amendment to the Superbonus decree provides for reduced rates compared to the original text. For finished products, to the extent of 10 euros per hectoliter (10 euro cents per litre), the tax would decrease by 5 euros per hectoliter (5 euro cents per litre) and, starting from 1 July 2026, to the extent of euro 10 per hectolitre. For products intended to be used after dilution, the tax is applied at the rate of 0.13 euros per kilogram and, starting from 1 July 2026, at the rate of €0.25 per kilogram.

The tax was created to target so-called sweetened drinks, i.e. "finished drinks and products prepared to become drinks after the addition of water or other liquids, classifiable under entries NC 2009 and NC 2202 of the combined nomenclature of the European Union, packaged for sale and intended for human food consumption, obtained with the addition of the sweeteners referred to in letter d) and having an alcoholic strength lower than or equal to 1.2% by volume". Sweetened drinks for nutritional needs are excluded from the rate.

The approval of the Sugar Tax is already causing discontent among the majority and the government. The parliamentarians of Forza Italia, whose leader Antonio Tajani, which is also Foreign Minister) immediately expressed "perplexity" acting as opponents, as "there are already rules at community level and adding one at national level, against a vote by Parliament which said to postpone of at least two years the entry with the positive opinion of the government voted by the entire majority, seems to me an inconsistency".

"The Sugar Tax does not bring large revenues to the state coffers, a new tax is imposed which risks putting many businesses in difficulty with agri-food companies which are already reducing the use of sugar. The will of parliament and the government must be respected" , Tajani then concluded.

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EFA News - European Food Agency