Belgian brewers file complaint against France

The Belgian Brewers have filed a complaint with the European Commission against France. The brewers are up in arms because France has increased duty on beer by 160%. Belgian brewers argue that France is protecting its own market for wine at the expense of beer.

Beer sales in France have dropped like a stone. In recent months beer turnover is down 8%, while turnover of wine is up by a full 5%. Most of the beer consumed in France is imported, chiefly from Belgium.

Sven Gatz, the director of the Belgian Brewers organisation, told the business TV channel kanaal Z that as a result of the French action Belgian beer sales in France have dropped by half a million hectolitres. He estimates losses at 60 million euros.

Sven Gatz: "This is why we have filed the complaint. Free movement of goods is essential and we've noticed that indirectly and directly France is giving wine preferential treatment, while imported beer is at a disadvantage."

Beer duty in France is now more or less at the same level as in Belgium, but that's still six times lower than in the UK.