Beer duty 'alignment' KO'd

No boosts for Germany or Spain, no cuts for UK

Sept 13, 2002 - Plans that would have increased beer and wine prices in Germany and Spain -- but reduced them in the United Kingdom -- have been shelved because of internal opposition within the European Commsission.


Officials had begun work on proposals to align duties across Europe, which would have boosted beer duties by 17% cent in Germany and Spain in 2003, while reducing them in the UK over several decades. However, a majority of commissioners have indicated they oppose the proposals.

"There was a general feeling that the idea would be unpopular and do more harm than good," said a Commission official. "It would have put up prices in several countries which also produce wine, hitting consumers and producers at the same time. And it would do little to stop abuses like smuggling."

Member states, whose approval would have been needed for any legislation, are even less likely to have been enthusiastic about the proposals. In fact, the German government went on record that it would fight any effort to boost taxes.

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