Minimum Pricing Illegal European Court Rules
22 Oct 2009
The Opinion said minimum prices were 'not necessary in order to
protect public health' and were a distortion of competition.
The ruling follows complaints to the Court by the European
Commission against Austria, Ireland and France for violation of EU
rules in trying to impose national minimum pricing for tobacco.
The Court's Advocate General has concluded that France and
Austria are not able to impose minimum prices on health grounds.
Ireland put forward different justification but here too minimum
pricing was rejected on the grounds that it distorts
The Advocate General's rejection of minimum pricing cast fresh
doubts on the legality of the Scottish Government's plan to impose
minimum price controls on Scotch Whisky and other drinks. The
Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has already argued that such a
regime was likely to breach both European Single Market rules and
international trade law.
Gavin Hewitt, SWA Chief Executive, welcomed the today's
"This Opinion is a comprehensive rejection of minimum pricing by
the European Court of Justice and cannot simply be ignored by the
Scottish Government. Austria, Ireland and France have been told
clearly today that minimum pricing is a breach of EU law. The
Scottish Government must recognise the legal situation and drop
this proposal which would be hugely damaging to Scottish jobs.
"We are ready to work with the Government to tackle alcohol
misuse by other means including discussing our proposed ban on
sales below tax."