10th Apr 2020

EU ministers fail to agree alcohol tax hike

European Commission plans to raise the minimum tax rate on alcohol on Tuesday (7 November) fell foul of EU finance ministers who could not agree to the proposals.

"We had a lively debate on the importance of beer, beer was one of the problems today," Finnish finance minister Eero Heinaluoma said after the meeting.

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The commission had proposed a 31 percent increase in the minimum tax on alcohol to reflect the rate of inflation since the last time the levy was set 14 years ago.

According to the Brussels executive, this would have worked out as 1 euro cent extra on the price of half a litre of beer.

However, it was too much for certain countries, particularly Germany which led the field in opposing the plans.

"Germany is not against alcohol tax but Germany is against beer becoming more expensive," deputy finance minister Thomas Mirow said, according to AP. "We have made clear that because of the sales tax raise, we have no manouevering space."

Mr Mirow was referring to the fact that German beer drinkers already face a tax hike on their tipple beginning in January.

Ministers are set to tackle the issue once again at a meeting at the end of the month.

Member states also failed to agree on setting higher limits for the amount of duty-free goods travellers can bring into the EU - currently set at €175 for air travellers and up to €220 for those crossing land borders.

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