Canadians wait as ECU drops taxes

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BRUSSELS, Belgium. – Diesel tax cuts offered by several European Union governments to angry truckers, farmers and other drivers have received the qualified approval of the European Commission.

The cuts where first promised after widespread blockades and protests over prices at the pumps shut down several countries in September, notably France and England.

The EU executive is also investigating whether the tax breaks in the three countries involved, France, the Netherlands and Italy, upset competition within the EU’s markets and whether they are therefore illegal. The executive’s decision must be ratified by EU finance ministers. Meanwhile, the British government announced in early November that it would cut taxes on cars, trucks and some grades of fuel. These tax cuts, announced by treasury chief Gordon Brown, will be effective in April. They amount to a reduction equaling 18 cents Canadian per litre of diesel for truckers, and nine cents Canadian a litre for gas-powered cars (diesel-fueled cars are popular in Britain). n

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