EU beer brewers refuse to swallow French suds tax

BRUSSELS (AP) -- France, the land of wine, is planning heavy taxes on beer, and that is not going down well with brewers -- even in other nations.

President Francois Hollande is pushing through legislation to increase taxes on beer by 160 percent to help fund struggling social programs as France tries to contain a budget deficit hit hard by the economic crisis.

The tax would affect local brews and the 30 percent of imported beer the French drink.

The change means the price of a beer will increase by about 20 percent in bars and supermarkets, said Jacqueline Lariven, spokeswoman for the French brewer's federation Brasseurs de France.

The Brewers of Europe trade group called the measure a `'kick in the teeth" on Tuesday, especially since brewers have seen beer production plummet by 6 percent and consumption by 8 percent in the EU since the region's economic crisis began in 2008.

Outside France, Belgium and Germany would be worst affected once the new legislation kicks in, said Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, head of the Brewers of Europe.


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