The European Parliament's economics committee has backed abolishing European Union (EU) common excise duty minimum rates.

Instead, the committee today (17 April) proposed a voluntary code of practice designed "to encourage member states with duties above the EU average to freeze and gradually lower them, and those with duties below the average to consider raising them".

EU member states have so far failed to agree last year's proposals from the European Commission to raise excise duty minimum rates because of opposition from current EU president Germany and other states.

The committee's pro-abolition line is unlikely to help the Commission. The MEPs even said a code could justify inaction. A statement said member states could take into account their economic health, enabling countries hoping to joining the Eurozone "not to increase their inflation rates by quickly raising excise duties on alcohol".