No to EU aluminium tariff cut

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A plan to cut the European Union’s import tariffs for wrought aluminium was blocked by several EU countries on Friday, in the most recent time that the proposal has split the 27-nation bloc. France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece and the Slovak Republic opposed the measure at a meeting of national customs union and tariff experts, an EU diplomat said. Germany, as EU president, would now seek a compromise deal. In January, the European Commission approved a proposal to halve import duties on wrought aluminium to 3 percent from January 1 this year and to eliminate them from January 1, 2009. The cut had been sought by new members of the EU, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, whose companies which consume wrought aluminium have had to pay more for their raw material than before they became part of the bloc. But many EU countries with their own aluminium-producing companies have long been opposed to the proposal. «The idea is to have another meeting in one month’s time about what is possible,» said Tomas Kucirek, head of a unit at the European Commission that has focused on the issue.