As governments fret about the consequences of next year's scrapping of intra-European duty-free sales, European Commission taxation officials are reaffirming their position that there is no case - and no process - for abandoning the planned move.
European finance ministers meeting in Brussels are today due to discuss the question again in the guise of a debate over a French report on the consequences of the legislation to the port of Calais.
But a spokeswoman for taxation commissioner, Mario Monti, tells ATI: "The French delegation may raise the duty-free issue but the Commission will reaffirm that there is no remit for modification of the Council [of Ministers] decision taken in 1991 for abolition on 1 July 1999.
"The attention should be focused on what measures member states can take for those issues where special consequences may arise as indicated by a recent Commission report."
She is adamant that there is no process under which the basic duty-free question can be re-addressed and insists that that will remain the case even when Germany assumes the European Union presidency in January.