Scotland's alcohol pricing policy comes under fire - again
There have always been mighty battles waged in Scotland but this one seems to run and run. In July this year both the Comité European des Enterprises (CEEV) and the Scotch Whisky Association legally challenged the Scottish Government's Minimum Unit Price proposals. Now Spain, Italy, Portugal, France and Bulgaria have all lodged detailed opinions in objection to their plans for a 50p minimum price on alcohol.
The Scots' argument is that minimum pricing will help tackle alcohol misuse, something supported by David Cameron as they believe that there is historic evidence showing that addressing the price of alcohol does have an effect on consumption.
However the CEEV believe that the setting of a minimum price contravenes rules governing the wine common market organisation across the EU. It will also act as a discriminatory barrier to trade for imported wines from companies which enjoy a competitive lower cost base, which is incompatible with EU and international trade law.
The European Commission complaints process is now extended until the end of the year so the debate continues, and the European Commission is now also obliged to seek a justification by the UK Government of the Scottish legislation.