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Learning English - Words in the News
13 May, 2005 - Published 11:04 GMT
French restaurant tax cut
a french restaurant

Tax experts from the 25 EU nations have been discussing France's demand to be allowed to cut value added tax on restaurant meals from almost twenty per cent to just 5.5 percent. EU officials have warned that decisions on taxes need to be agreed by all member states - and some still have doubts about the plan. This report from Caroline Wyatt:

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Food and drink are virtually a national religion in France, so lowering taxes on meals in cafes and restaurants would go down extremely well here - with restaurant owners and customers alike.

During the last election campaign, the French President Jacques Chirac promised he would slash value added tax on restaurant meals, to provide a boost for this crucial sector of the economy. But nothing has happened since because under EU rules, France needs the agreement of the rest of Europe.

Many believe it's no coincidence that President Chirac and his government have suddenly upped the pressure on the issue. Some suggest that such a move could prove a vital sweetener for the French, and could even make café and restaurant owners look more favourably on the EU constitution when they vote in the referendum at the end of the month.

Denmark, Sweden and Germany are apparently still reluctant to allow France this particular tax exception. But the French government is expected to argue that it's a small price to pay to persuade the French to swallow their doubts on the EU Constitution and vote yes.

Caroline Wyatt, BBC News, Paris

Listen to the words

a national religion
here, something that people across the whole country are very keen on

go down
be received

people who buy goods or services

reduce by a large amount

a boost
an improvement

it's no coincidence
this hasn't happened by chance


here, something given or offered in order to persuade someone

not willing

to swallow their doubts on
to accept without question

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