Fuel prices fall further in Europe

UK petrol prices have been falling at nearly half the rate of neighbouring European countries, the AA has said.

From April 16 to May 7, petrol pump prices before tax in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Holland and Spain have fallen on average 6.10% compared with 3.16% for the UK.

Had average UK petrol prices fallen in line with their European neighbours, British drivers would have been paying just over 138.04p a litre on Monday instead of the 140.17p they were typically charged.

Even with the mid-week supermarket cuts, the average price of petrol on Thursday was 139.19p a litre, with diesel at 145.06p.

The AA said on Wednesday that, had UK pump prices fallen in line with north-west Europe wholesale petrol price movements, British drivers would now be paying about 135.5p a litre, or 7p less than the 142.48p record set on April 16.

Since early April, the wholesale price of petrol in northern Europe has fallen 200 dollars a tonne - enough to lop a total of 10p a litre off mid-April's record if the fall persists.

AA president Edmund King said: "It is worrying that lagging pump prices are denying drivers, firms and high street shoppers some let-up from the financial pressures forcing cut-backs.

"The fuel industry likes to defend its position on the grounds that pre-tax petrol prices are the lowest in western Europe. It may like to note that Austria, despite a weaker euro and the pound being stronger against the dollar, last week undercut the UK."