Finland will use its six-month tenure as EU president to push for an increase in alcohol taxes, the country's teetotal president Matti Vanhanen said this week.

But any plans to increase minimum duties are likely to face stern opposition from other EU countries.

Almost all the wine-producing states in the EU, for example, have zero duty on wine - apart from France, which imposes a low rate - and would be hard to convince that an increase is needed.

Shoppers from Finland, Denmark and Sweden, where high taxes are justified on health grounds, are increasingly buying their alcohol in neighbouring countries such as Germany or Estonia, where rates are much lower.

A new EU alcohol policy, due later this year, is also expected to suggest an increase in duty rates to stop the rise in alcohol-related health issues.