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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 February, 2005, 11:23 GMT
EU ministers to mull jet fuel tax
German economy and finance minister Hans Eichel (centre) talks with Dutch counterpart Gerrit Zalm, Luxembourg economy minister Jeannot Krecke and Greek finance minister Georgios Alogoskoufis
Ministers have reiterated their commitment to eradicating poverty
European Union finance ministers are meeting on Thursday in Brussels, where they are to discuss a controversial jet fuel tax.

A levy on jet fuel has been suggested as a way to raise funds to finance aid for the world's poorest nations.

Airlines and aviation bodies have reacted strongly against the plans, saying they would hurt companies at a time when earnings are under pressure.

The EU said a tax would only be passed after full consultation with airlines.

It was keen to point out earlier this week that any new tax on jet fuel should not hurt the "competitiveness of the airlines".

Ministers will also be discussing reforms to regulations governing European public spending.

Key issue

Global leaders have focused attention on poverty reduction and development at recent meetings of the G7 Group and World Economic Forum.

The world's richest countries have said they want to boost the amount of aid they give to 0.7% of their annual gross national income by 2015.

Many EU ministers are thought to support the plan to tax jet fuel - tabled by France and Germany following the recent G7 meeting.

At present, the fuel used by airlines enjoys either a very low tax rate or is untaxed in EU member states.

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