Prepared Foods September 6, 2004 enewsletter

"The European Commission (EC) has issued a report on the functioning of the current system of minimum excise rates for alcohol and alcoholic drinks in the EU. The report suggests that the rates should be further unified," said Tadeusz Dorda, a Polish business representative on the EC's Economic-Social Committee.

"At present, the EU's minimal excise rate for vodka amounts to EUR550 ($665) per 100 liters of alcohol - 80% less than the current rate in Poland. Similarly, tax on beer is around twice as high as the minimal rate.

"On the other hand, in some EU member states the tax is even higher: in Sweden, the rate for vodka exceeds the minimal rate by 10 times. Unifying the excise rates is aimed at fostering competition on the EU common market; at present, EU-citizens import large quantities of alcohol "for their own needs" from member states where the duty is lower.