The European Union (EU) Council of Ministers has today (28 November) delayed a decision on setting new raised minimum excise duties on alcohol for up to seven months and maybe longer, asking the European Commission to investigate the issue.

The current Finnish EU presidency said: "The council has invited the Commission to carry out a comprehensive study." The results are expected in the "first half of 2007".

Although the Finns said this would "facilitate further decisions", the report will be released during the next German presidency of the EU.

This will present a situation whereby, given that Germany has led opposition to raising duties due to its unwillingness to countenance raising German beer prices, the nation will control EU council agendas until July.