Spain, Portugal and Italy object to minimum pricing

25 September, 2012

Spain, Portugal and Italy have joined Bulgaria in objecting to Scotland’s plans to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol.

The four wine producing countries have issued a "detailed opinion" to the European Commission.

WSTA chief executive, Miles Beale said: “Portugal and Spain have added their voices to the growing opposition to the Scottish Government’s minimum unit pricing plans. There is a real groundswell of opposition building in Europe with Portugal, Spain, Italy and Bulgaria all submitting objections to the European Commission.

"The legality of minimum unit pricing has always been questionable and the UK Government will now be required to explain to the European Commission the legality of the Scottish Government’s proposals. We await with interest the Commission’s reaction to these latest objections.”

Speaking following Italy's objection, Paul Skehan, director general of The European Spirits Organisation, said: “We welcome the detailed opinion by Italy and Bulgaria but also the comments made by Austria and Poland on the same issue. They all underline the arguments presented by The European Spirits industry to the European Commission, notably about the illegality of such a minimum pricing on alcohol beverages"

The European Spirits Organisation (CEPS) believes the Scottish Government’s £0.50 Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) policy “represents an illegal barrier to trade, will discriminate between companies in the market, will affect the vast majority of people who do not abuse alcohol in any way and will not address the harmful drinking problem it sets out to”. Lastly CEPS believes the move “will set a potentially dangerous precedent for third countries to block European products from entering their markets, resulting in a very negative impact on the European drinks industry, the single largest agro-food export of the EU.”

The detailed opinions provided by the four countries means that the consideration period for the Scottish Government’s minimum unit pricing proposals will be extended for a further 3 months until December 27 2012. Skehan adds: “We hope the 3 months extension of the standstill period will provide an opportunity for other countries to express their concerns and for the European Commission to seek an explanation from the UK Government about the validity of the Scottish Government’s proposals.”

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