Drinks traders can use a new European Union (EU) computerised system for monitoring and controlling excised goods.

The Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS) should ease administration for shipping excised goods from one EU member state to another, and help customs officials pinpoint excise fraud, where goods disappear into the black market.

It replaces a paper-based system, where shippers tell authorities by post they have sent goods; their receipt and payment of excise duty being logged similarly.

This slow process makes it easier for goods to 'disappear' en route to customers, said the European Commission.

EU tax Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta said: "Tackling fiscal fraud is a top priority." The system would "also cut red tape and reduce compliance costs".

The system comes into operation on 1 April.