Plans by the European Commission to curb smuggling in the EU by harmonising alcohol duty rates have been met with scepticism by the UK drinks industry. The spirits companies have been pressing the British government to cut its taxes, which are some of the highest in the EU and they welcomed the proposals. Brussels is drawing up plans to shake up the system of tax on wines, beers and spirits which gives minimum levels for duties ­ for wine its zero ­ and allows governments to charge what they wish. Single market Commissioner Fritz Bolkestein is considering a rise in minimum rates and introducing maximum rates based on the average across the EU. But Scotch Whisky Association spokesman Campbell Evans said: "Brussels has been thinking about this for some time. Until we see the final proposals this is just speculation." They are trying to put a package together that everyone will be happy with. If any one country vetoes it there will be no movement. "I would like to see these ideas move forward but there are a lot of obstacles to overcome." Wine and Spirits Association director Quentin Rappoport agreed: "It is early days yet. The British government will not be happy with these proposals." He said the extreme differences in taxes of neighbouring countries has promoted smuggling and considerable cross border trade. The WSA estimates that one in six bottles of wine bought by UK residents was purchased in France. {{NEWS }}