Off-trade

CEPS seeks EU backing against minimum price introduction

The European Spirits Organisation – CEPS – has urged the European Commission to object to the Scottish Government’s recent proposal to set a minimum unit price for alcohol.

It believes that the Scottish Government’s 50 pence Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) policy represents an illegal barrier to trade and will:-

•    discriminate between companies in the market
•    affect the vast majority of people who do not abuse alcohol in any way
•    not address the harmful drinking problem it sets out to solve  – the Scottish government’s own impact assessment admits as much
•    set a potentially dangerous precedent for Third Countries to block European products from entering their markets.
 
Recent statistics reveal that alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm have been falling in Scotland, stated CEPS, but the Scottish Government has decided to press ahead with its plans, despite the fact their own figures show 73 pe cent of alcohol sold in the off-trade will have to go up in price and that the measure will not decrease in any way the minority proportion of the population who abuse alcohol.
 
CEPS is concerned that other countries are likely to adopt similar minimum price measures and use “protection of health” as justification to block imported products.  Such ‘copycat’ measures would be disastrous for the European drinks industry, the single largest agro-food export of the EU, it argues.
 
CEPS will also join the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) in legal action in Scotland to contest the legality of the proposed measures.
 
CEPS Director General Paul Skehan said,  “European law is clear – minimum pricing is an illegal barrier to trade.  We fully agree alcohol misuse must be tackled, but other more effective measures can be used, without creating barriers to trade.”
 

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