The French government has waded into Tate & Lyle Sugars’ legal case against “unfair” EU sugar laws that the sugar giant claims continue to fuel price rises.

T&L Sugars is seeking 35m in compensation from Brussels over EU rules that have resulted in it paying 14.5m in tariffs to buy sugar over the past 12 months the equivalent of 850 trucks filled with 1kg bags of sugar.

The French government has expressed its opposition to the company’s compensation bid, in a move that Ian Bacon, president of T&L Sugars, described as “very unusual”.

The French had the biggest sugar beet industry in Europe so would gain the most from prices remaining high. Over the past year, they have risen from 500-550 a tonne in the UK to 950-1,000.

T&L Sugars blamed the recent hikes on restrictive EU rules that forced suppliers to participate in an ­auction where the Commission, in order to make up for a shortfall in tariff-free supplies from developing countries, sells off the right to import cane to whoever is willing to pay the highest tariff.