CASE NUMBER: 219 CASE MNEMONIC: GERMBEER CASE NAME: Germany's Beer Purity Law A. IDENTIFICATION 1. The Issue Would-be beer exporters to Germany and environmentalists rebelled for decades against the German beer purity law or Reinheitsgebot (originally enacted in 1516), which permitted only four ingredients in the beverage: water, hops, barley, and yeast. Germans claimed that the law protected public health from harmful additives and public interest from misrepresentative advertising. Though officially lifted in 1987 after an EC ruling, the purity law's tradition continues in Germany. The German beer market remains a difficult one to enter as those who want to sell German-style, limited ingredient beer may not substitute other ingredients. Details of the 1987 European Court of Justice case, similar to one against a Greek brewing law, are revealed here. 2. Description Beer is generally an alcoholic beverage manufactured in five stages requiring malted barley, hops, yeast and water. The first stage involves malting young barley; secondly, the brewer extracts soluble malt with water. Next, the brewer boils the malted barley for flavor, creating "wort." This substance is then fermented with yeast, and finally clarified, matured and drawn off to be sold as literally thousands of types of beer.(1) Some brewers substitute rice, maize, sorghum, or other, most cost-effective raw cereal for barley in the initial stage. The German beer purity law, or Reinheitsgebot, allows no such substitutes. Based upon Bavarian custom, an official law was first enacted in 1516 then modified in March 1952 (Bundesgesetzblatt, or federal law) and September 1980 (Zollaenderunggesetz, or Customs Law Amendment). It originally exclusively allowed the sale of beer with three ingredients (water, hops, and barley) but was later revised to allow yeast. The term "beer" carries with it certain distinct cultural connotations. Although some evidence indicates that Egyptians may have brewed a beer-like beverage before Christ and that other civilizations passed down the tradition, most modern cultures credit 16th century brewers in Bavaria, Southern Germany, to have originated or at least modified the drink to its modern form. Beer remains central to German culture, as Germans consume more than 3 billion liters of beer annually, or more than 300 liters/capita, the highest in the world. German brewers also established industries in the United States, Mexico, China, and many other countries. Brewers worldwide now produce countless types of beer on a formula similar to the Bavarian one, which combined water, hops and barley, but many add other cereals, fruit juices, or chemicals to enhance the flavor, foaming ability, or other quality. Such variances allow for a variety of alcoholic beverages often with characteristics distinct to certain nations, regions, or ethnic groups, e.g. the German bock beers, or summer brews, significantly sweeter than most dunkel, or dark beers and distinctively different from Belgian fruit beers, which actually contain fermented fruit juice. (Both of the German beers above follow the Reinheitsgebot, however.) Beers may also vary in alcoholic content (from the alcohol- free Clausthaler to the higher domestic German Spaten or Warsteiner); in their packaging (from common American aluminum cans to European bottles); and in their marketing (from American micro-breweries and German family breweries to multi-million dollar mega-producers in these and other countries). Foreign competitors had complained for decades about the unfairness of the German law and an almost identical one in Greece (EEC case 176/84), demanding that it favored domestic manufacturers and denied foreign businesses access to profitable domestic beer markets, especially in Germany. The European Court of Justice ruled in March, 1987 that the German Beer Purity Law created intra-European trade barriers, in direct violation of the Rome Treaty (Article 30, banning protectionism). The Court ruled that the beer's alcohol content threatened public health more than any otherwise legal additive, and that Germany itself violated the law on occasion for public festivals without any apparent health damage. The European Community's Scientific Committee for Food and the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarious Committee provided the data to support the ruling. The Court forced a national repeal of the law to balance requirements within the then-EC, although it noted that domestic production requirements could remain in effect (see DANISH case). The repeal led to German consumer outcry, that lower- standard foreign products would be allowed to invade their prized beer market. Foreign beer producers initially expressed only slight relief, believing the market would continue to be largely impenetrable. More recently, the market has expanded somewhat to include microbrewers worldwide, especially in North America, who have adapted more traditional slow- and pure-brewing techniques to emulate the German process and compete with German beer in both North America and Europe (see ONTARIO case). Related environmental concerns include the question of purity of Germany's water supply, especially in the new (Eastern) provinces; the stripping of fields (by raising only barley), and potential landfill overflow if beer bottles are not properly recycled. 3. Related Cases ONTARIO case DANISH case GERMPAC case CASSIS case PISCO case Keyword Clusters (1): Trade Product = BEER (2): Bio-geography = TEMPERATE (3): Measure = Regulatory Standard [REGSTD] 4. Draft Author: Mari-Anne Kocian B. Legal Clusters 5. Discourse and Status: AGReement and COMPlete Although the various parties involved had initially disagreed on the proper course of action, following the European Court decision in 1987, there has been no further legal recourse. Now action occurs in the market itself, as brewers compete for the coveted German beer consumer with advertising and marketing tools. 6. Forum and Scope: EURCOM and REGION Based upon a national law, this issue attracted regional concern because other EC member states protested that it discriminated against non-German producers. 7. Decision Breadth: 15 (EURCOM) This decision directly affected member states of the EC, now the European Union, who must abide by European Court legal pronouncements. Other trading-partners countries, such as Canada and the United States, are also affected less directly, as they may now gain access to Germany's beer market without following the same strenuous guidelines as before. The American brewery, "Samuel Adams", proudly advertised that it was the only American brewer that met these strict requirements. 8. Legal Standing: LAW As noted above, all EU states must follow Court of Justice decisions as law, which supersedes their own national and provincial law, according to provisions of the Rome, Paris, and Maastricht Treaties and the Single European Act, EU founding documents signed by and applicable to the 15 member states. C. GEOGRAPHIC Clusters 9. Geographic Locations a. Geographic Domain : EUROPE b. Geographic Site : Western Europe [WEUR] c. Geographic Impact : GERMANY Although an EU-wide law, the primary affected party is Germany, required to modify its trade standards and allow what it had considered substandard products into the country. 10. Sub-National Factors: YES Local German beer producers, who must continue to follow strict Reinheitsgebot standards must now compete with large-scale foreign companies which are allowed to substitute cheaper substitutes in their beer. 11. Type of Habitat: TEMPERATE D. TRADE Clusters 12. Type of Measure: Regulatory Standard [REGSTD] The standardized product concept here deals primarily with products which are traded among EU member states. The EU requires that all product additive requirements be the same among member states to eliminate unfair competition and allow states to export their wares to neighbors within the Union. 13. Direct vs. Indirect Impacts: INdirect The impact on trade is undeniable, as the German beer market is the world's largest, now open to brewers around the globe. Also, after manufacturers must change the type of ingredients their beer includes in order to remain competitive in the beer market, i.e., stop including only barley, this will impact the environment somewhat as farmers switch supply crops. 14. Relation of Measure to Environmental Impact a. Directly Related : YES BEER b. Indirectly Related : NO c. Not Related: : NO d. Process Related : NO WATER As the additive laws slacken, impure water may be included in the brewing process. The beer-making process is directly affected, as producers may now substitute alternative ingredients in the first stage of production. 15. Trade Product Identification: BEER Beer may be produced with or without alcohol; however, the label must clearly indicate the alcohol content. 16. Economic Data The Germans consume more than 3 billion liters of beer annually, or more than 300 liters/capita, the highest in the world. 17. Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness: HIGH By changing the ingredient requirements, outside vendors may now compete in the lucrative German market, from which they were formerly excluded altogether unless they met strenuous production standards. 18. Industry Sector: FOOD 19. Exporter and Importer: EURCOM and GERMANY E. ENVIRONMENT Clusters 20. Environmental Problem Type: WATER There is some possibility that as manufacturers would be forced to all use exactly the same ingredients (as dictated under the Reinheitsgebot), all crop area would produce the same crops season after season and the land would be stripped. By allowing a change in ingredients, growers may rotate their crops and sell various crops to various beer producers. Another problem is one of packaging/landfill use, as yet not fully estimated. 21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Species Name: Barley Type: Plant/Vascular/Monocots Diveristy: 824 higher plants per 10,000 km/sq (Germany) 22. Resource Impact and Effect: MEDium and PRODUCT If beer demand and sales increased dramatically and bottles were not recycled, land fills could fill quickly. Also, there would be some impact on water purity. 23. Urgency and Lifetime: MEDium and 100s of years 24. Substitutes: RECYCling As recyclable containers are used for the product, increasingly fewer environmental problems result. Also, producers could use alternative ingredients in the beer, perhaps using a cereal that specifically benefits the soil. F. OTHER Factors 25. Culture: YES Beer is a major feature in German culture, hence the long history and strict standards regarding its content. German "beer snobs" tend to disregard beverages not brewed according to the domestic Reinheitsgebot guidelines, but foreign brewers are beginning to find a niche in the German market. 26. Trans-Border: NO 27. Rights: NO 28. Relevant Literature Court of Justice of the European Communities, Reports of Cases before the Court of Justice, 1987-3, "Free Movement of Goods: Commission v. Germany," p. 1227-1277, (March 12, 1987). "Eurononsense: Why Brussels Sprouts," Economist, (Dec 26, 1992), 325/7791, 70-72. Manogue, Robert, Consumer Goods, US Department of Commerce (conversation), Washington, DC, March 1995. Neighbors, Jim, Institute for Brewing Studies, (conversation), Denver, CO, February 1995. "Netherlands: Heineken moves to tap German market," International Management (Europe Edition) 47, (July-Aug, 1992), 21. Suppan, Klaus and van Heidebront, Agricultural Division, Embassy of Germany, (conversation), Washington, DC, February 1995. van Dijk, Nico, "Dutch Beer: The World's Safest Drink?", Europe: Magazine of the European Community (September, 1992), 319, 22-23. References 1. Court of Justice of the European Communities, Reports of Cases before the Court, 1987-3, "Free Movement of Goods: Commission v. Germany," 1227-1277, March 12, 1987.