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MUP breaches trade laws, EU court rules

 


“The Court of Justice considers that the effect of the Scottish legislation is significantly to restrict the market, and this might be avoided by the introduction of a tax measure designed to increase the price of alcohol instead of a measure imposing a minimum price per unit of alcohol.”

Spirits trade associations welcomed the ruling by a EU court stating that Scotland’s plan to introduce a minimum unit price on alcohol breaches EU trade laws.

 Today, the European Court of Justice agreed with EU advocate that MUP contravenes EU laws if other options to tackle harmful drinking – such as increased taxation – exist.The ruling stated: “The Court of Justice considers that the effect of the Scottish legislation is significantly to restrict the market, and this might be avoided by the introduction of a tax measure designed to increase the price of alcohol instead of a measure imposing a minimum price per unit of alcohol.” However, the ruling and courts decision only means so much. The EU court said it was ultimately up to the Scottish national courts to decide whether other measures are capable of protecting human health, while being less restrictive of EU trade.

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While health advocates claim that MUP is a way to tackle harmful drinking, David Frost, chief executive of the SWA, said: “We welcome the European Court’s ruling. The SWA always said European Union law issues were central to this case, and so it has proved. This settles EU law issues once and for all. “The Court has confirmed that minimum unit pricing (MUP) is a restriction on trade, and that it is illegal to choose MUP where there are less restrictive ways of achieving the same end.

Only time will tell.

 

 Source: The Spirits Business