Page last updated:September 29, 2015
EU court issues opinion on minimum alcohol price

Scotland’s plan to fix a minimum price for alcohol suffered a set back this month after the European court’s top lawyer ruled it would infringe EU law on free trade. In a formal opinion on the policy, the Advocate General to the European Court of Justice, Yves Bot, said that fixing a legal price for all alcoholic drinks could only be justified to protect public health if no other mechanism, such as tax increases, could be found. It is now expected that the Scottish government’s efforts to be the first in Europe to introduce minimum pricing – supported by leading figures in the medical profession and the police, after several years of legal battles - will be defeated. It is highly likely the ECJ in Luxembourg will now uphold complaints from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and nine other member states, including France, Spain and Bulgaria, because its judgments rarely contradict an opinion from the advocate general. The ECJ will hand down its ruling on the matter next year.

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