Carbon tax failure

European Community finance ministers decided yesterday to send a proposed carbon energy tax designed to curb carbon dioxide emissions back to the drawing board after failing to bridge national differences, Reuter reports from Luxembourg.

'It is my opinion that in the EC at top level we do agree that the environment must be introduced into the economy, but we have not reached a stage where different national considerations have been overcome,' the Danish Economy Minister, Marianne Jelved, said after the ministers' meeting.

Kenneth Clarke's first visit to Europe as Chancellor of the Exchequer ended with Britain isolated against its 11 EC partners whose efforts to pressure Britain to charge VAT on fine art sales failed.