Advocate General challenges the legality of Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol in Scotland
Brussels, 3 September 2015 – We welcome Advocate General’s opinion, made public today, on minimum unit pricing (MUP) of alcohol.
Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, Secretary General of CEEV said “This opinion marks a significant stage in the battle against MUP and confirms CEEV belief that MUP is illegal under the European Union law. However Advocate General’s opinion doesn’t seem to do justice to one of the arguments presented by CEEV and several Member States which is that MUP is contrary to the principles set in the Common Market Organisation for Agricultural products (CMO Regulation). We await the Court of Justice of the European Union final ruling expected early 2016”.
CEEV remains convinced that alcohol misuse shall be addressed with proven efficient measures. In this sense, the wine sector has the firm intention to continue to promote responsible and moderate wine drinking as a social and cultural norm through its comprehensive and tangible global programme "Wine in Moderation - Art de Vivre" (WIM).
It has to be recalled that there is a long-term trend of falling alcohol-related deaths and harms in Scotland which suggests that measures in place are working.
Notes to Editors:
- Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV – www.ceev.eu) represents the wine companies in the industry and trade in the European Union: still wines, aromatised wines, sparkling wines, liqueur wines and other vine products. It brings together 24 national organisations. With more than 7.000 companies, mainly SMEs, and more than 200.000 direct jobs in the EU, its members produce and market the vast majority of quality European wines, with and without a geographical indication, and account for over 90% of European wine exports.
- In 2012 the Scottish Government passed the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012, the purpose of which was to fix a minimum unit price for alcoholic beverages based on the quantity of alcohol they contain.
When this proposal was referred to the EU Commission under the Technical Standards Directive (98/34/EC) 10 Member States (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria Austria, Germany, Poland, Romania and Denmark) and the European Commission itself raised concerns and comments against MUP. In parallel, our European association, the Comité Européen des Enterprises Vins (CEEV), jointly with The Scotch Whisky Association, and spiritsEUROPE, challenged the MUP legislation in the Scottish Courts.
The Scottish Court asked the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for a preliminary ruling on a number of questions of EU law. This reference implies that they recognised that the proposed MUP scheme raises substantial doubts regarding its compatibility with the EU law.
The Advocate General’s Opinion precedes the full judgment of the CJEU on the case expected early 2016.