Friday

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

And the world's heaviest drinkers are ... Europeans

Europeans still drink more alcohol than the rest of the word, according to a recently-released report of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Germany, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania are the heaviest-drinking EU countries.

Analysis

How the EU's virus-alert agency failed

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, an EU agency, was meant to highlight threats from infectious diseases, but it painted a rosy picture of Covid-19.

Opinion

Why Europe must act now, and on a big scale

It is still very likely that Europe will face a new deadly spread of the virus next autumn or winter. Until a reliable vaccine and cure are in place, we all have to live in this new reality.

News in Brief

  1. Migrants trapped on boat in Tripoli due to shelling
  2. EU anti-crisis budget 'could be up to €1.5 trillion'
  3. Western Balkan states appeal for EU help with masks
  4. Spain's lockdown could be extended until 10 May
  5. IMF: Pandemic crisis will be worse than great depression
  6. German economy minister expects progress on EU deal
  7. Italian PM: EU is at risk if no deal on recovery plan
  8. Belgian region to block EU Green Deal

Opinion

Coronavirus sees approval-rating soar for EU leaders

The rise in support for mainstream parties has been paired with stagnation or decline for far-right populist parties and figures - the AfD has dropped to 10 percent in Germany and Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini are treading water.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. How the EU's virus-alert agency failed
  2. Flemish nationalists torpedo Belgium Green Deal pledge
  3. Eurozone agreed €500bn cushion against virus blow
  4. Why Europe must act now, and on a big scale
  5. EU court blocks Poland's bid to 'frighten' judges
  6. Coronavirus sees approval-rating soar for EU leaders
  7. EU science chief who 'quit' had been told to resign
  8. EU delays 'exit strategies' plan, as WHO urges caution

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us