European Court Rules Minimum Pricing Is Illegal
04 Mar 2010
The ruling upheld an October 2009 'Opinion' by the Court's
Advocate-General that minimum pricing unfairly distorts
competition. Minimum pricing arrangements in the countries involved
were all found to violate EU law, in line with over thirty years of
European Court case-law. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) called
on the Scottish Government to withdraw its minimum pricing proposal
from the Alcohol Bill and work with all parties to address alcohol
harm in Scotland.
Gavin Hewitt, Chief Executive of The Scotch Whisky Association,
"Today's ruling is a major development, confirming our
contention that minimum pricing breaches EU law and unfairly
distorts competition. Given this latest evidence, the Scottish
Government must now recognise the legal realities. It cannot
introduce a trade barrier in breach of the UK's European
obligations by imposing minimum pricing on alcohol in Scotland.
"The Court has also said that measures to prevent sales at a
loss are acceptable. The SWA has said repeatedly that we are ready
to work with the Scottish Government on just such a legal,
alternative and transparent mechanism to address alcohol harm. We
would urge the Scottish Government to withdraw minimum pricing from
the Alcohol Bill and hope that a consensus can now be reached on
tackling loss leading sales of alcohol."