Officials in the Czech Republic and Germany were the first to vow to fight a propose 31% increase in the minimum European Union duty on beer and spirits.
The duty hike, which needs unanimous approval from the bloc’s 25 member states, would come into force at the start of 2008, but some states might be given a two-year grace period.
“The economic and social impact of the proposal can be considered as minimal. For example, for beer, the biggest required increase in national excise duty would be of the order one euro cent on half a liter of beer, at the latest by January 1 2010,” the Commission said in a statement.
Germany’s finance ministry joined brewer in opposing the plans, announcing that it was “firmly opposed” to the proposal.
“Germany is a land with high beer consumption and its should stay that way,” an official was quoted as saying.
New Czech Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty, a member of the rightist Civic Democrats which won a June election promoting deep tax cuts, threatened to veto any tax rises.
“As a matter of principle we do not agree with it and use all means to prevent taxes from increasing,” Tlusty said.