The Scottish Government’s minimum alcohol price policy is under attack from Europe. The Bulgarian Government has lodged a formal complaint, which may lead to a blocking of the Scottish plans.

 

The European Commission has been seeking views on the subject from its member states. The Bulgarian complaint means that this reflection period will be extended by three months and is probable to delay the introduction of minimum pricing on alcoholic products in Scotland. The plans were set to go into effect next year.

A spokesperson of the Scottish Government said the move was not unexpected and insisted ministers were confident they could demonstrate the need for minimum pricing: “Under European law, we need to show minimum pricing of alcohol is justified on the basis of public health and social grounds. We are confident it is justified in Scotland and that we will be able to demonstrate this.

“We believe minimum unit pricing is the most effective pricing measure because it targets a reduction in consumption of alcohol which is cheap relative to its strength.”

“Independent modeling demonstrates the significant reduction in harm, including 60 fewer deaths and 1600 fewer hospital admissions in the first year alone, growing to a total of 300 fewer deaths annually after 10 years.”

Industry stakeholders, most notably the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), have reacted positively to the Bulgarian objection. The WSTA has campaigned against the plans on the basis of European competition laws.

While an argument can be made against the Scottish plans based on European competition laws, another argument can be made on the basis of consumer protection, public health and social grounds. Surely, health should prevail over financial gains? EUCAM would like to take this discussion as proof of the need for European-wide restrictions on alcohol pricing and marketing.

[link=http://www.eucam.info/eucam/home/marketing-products-and-reports.html/2248/1252/new-fact-sheet-legal-possibilities-of-a-comprehensive-alcohol-advertising-ban-in-europe#p2248]European harmonization of restrictions on alcohol marketing and pricing is legally feasible, as is explained in this EUCAM Factsheet>>[/link]

Source: The Herald 09/15/2012

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