The government is fighting the European Commission's claims that the use of red diesel to power pleasure boats in the UK is in breach of EU rules


The British government has gone to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to defend the availability of red diesel in the UK.

It is fighting claims by the European Commission that the UK is breaching EU rules by allowing British yacht owners to buy lowered taxed fuel intended for fishing boats.

In May 2013, the European Commission formally requested that the UK amend its legislation “to ensure that private pleasure boats such as luxury yachts can no longer buy lower taxed fuel intended for fishing boats” and issued a reasoned opinion to the UK Government, which HMRC indicated its intention to challenge in July 2013.

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As a result, in July 2014, the European Commission indicated that it had decided to refer the UK to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The Court of Justice of the European Union case is about marked fuel being supplied for propelling private pleasure craft in the UK.

The RYA believes that if the UK were forced to change to unmarked ‘white’ diesel for recreational craft at the waterside, it is likely that suppliers would find it difficult to make the significant investment required to install additional tanks and pumps for unmarked ‘white’ diesel.

‘The crux of the matter is ensuring the continued availability of diesel for the leisure boating community,” added an RYA spokesman.