“It is anchored in the law that the member states are now allowed to apply their own marketing rules to agricultural products from other member countries”, Sylbain Naulin, spokesman of the CEEV foreign trade department, explains. This law could cause headache to the Scottish government in its attempt to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. This affects as well the British government, which is, too, considering about a minimum price for alcoholic beverages in England and Wales.
“Nevertheless, officials of the European Commission can allow derogations under certain circumstances. The legal situation, however, is clear - to fix a minimum price is an illegal trade barrier”, Paul Skehan, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), says. The Scottish ministers, in contrast, argue with public health. “We are sure to achieve to enforce our healthcare measures”, a spokesman of the Scottish government counters.
But independent experts are not sure about the legal situation and about the enforcement of minimum prices for alcoholic beverages in the EU. “It is not really discrimination because not all alcoholic beverages are affected in the same way, no matter if the alcoholic beverages are imported or if they have been produced in the member state itself,” Angus MacCulloch, an EU competition law expert and senior lecturer at Lancaster University, says.
Yet, the legal department of the EU commission does not want to comment the Scottish plans. We’ll continue to observe and to report. (red.yoopress)