The EU Commission is seeking an explanation from France on what it considers to be the over-taxation of high alcohol beers.

France's national assembly voted for the tax hike at the end of last year. In a letter to the French authorities, the European commissioner for the Internal Market and Taxation, Frits Bolkestein, highlighted his worry over the impact of a €200 per hectolitre increase in taxation on beers with an alcohol content of more than 8.5 degrees.

The over-taxation is viewed as hitting imported beers particularly hard.

While waiting for France to reply, the Commission could instigate proceedings for a breach of the trade treaty which prohibits the fiscal discrimination against goods which are imported from other member states.