French back off beer tax

Levy that penalized strong Belgian beers is suspended

Feb 5, 2003 - The French government is suspending its controversial tax on beer containing more than 8.5% alcohol. The tax threatened to cause financial problems for Belgium's specialty brewers.


France is the largest market for Belgian beer and, according to the brewers' association, the tax of 2.10 euros cents per liter has caused Belgian brewers financial difficulties. The tax was imposed at the beginning of January.

The French government said the measure was intended to combat drunkenness, but Belgian brewers criticised it as protectionist. The brewers' association filed a complaint with the European Commission, and Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders entered into talks with his French counterpart, Fran¨ois Mer.

Following the talks, France agreed to review the tax or exempt it for strong Belgian brews.

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