Scotland politics

Minimum alcohol pricing: Position of Germany

Opinions of European Union member states on Scottish government plans for minimum alcohol pricing have been released to BBC Scotland.

Position of Germany on Notification 2012/0394/UK on the draft Alcohol (minimum price per unit) (Scotland) Order

By way of this draft law relating to alcohol, the Scottish government is planning to lay down a minimum price per unit for alcohol products for retail sale. This Scottish notification is in fact a measure related to alcoholism prevention.

In principle, Germany supports alcoholism-prevention measures.

The introduction of a minimum price for alcohol products, calculated using a fixed formula unrelated to production costs, may however be considered as a measure having equivalent effect to a quantitative restriction on imports, which is prohibited by EU legislation.

The fixing of a minimum price which is independent of production costs in this way may deprive foreign economic operators of a competitive advantage, which may infringe Article 34 TFEU.

Admittedly, Article 36 TFEU states that prohibitions or restrictions on the free movement of goods may not be precluded if these are justified on grounds of public morality, public policy or public security for the protection of health and life of humans.

This may indeed be the case with alcoholism-prevention, however if that were the case the notified measure would have to be the least restrictive means of achieving the objective.

Germany requests that the UK take these considerations into account and not adopt measures that infringe European law, thereby standing in the way of harmonisation.