The European Commission is to apply further pressure on member states to harmonise drinks excise duty rates later this year, when it releases a report on alcohol taxation.

The paper will focus on the problems created in the EU's internal market by wide contrasts between rates and its effect on competition between different categories of alcoholic drinks.

Commissioner of internal markets Frits Bolkestein said: "We must eliminate the tax problems facing individuals and businesses operating within the (EU). Eight years after the target date for completion of the Internal Market, it is unacceptable that taxpayers still encounter so many cross-border tax obstacles."