The European Commission has - as predicted in - ducked proposing comprehensive harmonisation of European Union (EU) alcohol excise duty rates in a formal report on the issue.

That said, Brussels has proposed rates are rounded up from levels agreed for 1993's establishment of the European single market. This should take account of the 24% inflation to 2003, said the Commission, "to ensure that the minimum rates of excise duty do not become meaningless over time."

The report also questioned whether an existing option to tax still and sparkling alcoholic beverages differently should be retained, treating sparkling wines as luxury items, taxing them higher than still wines.