Scotland politics

Minimum alcohol pricing: Position of Romania

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

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

With regard to notification number 2012/394/UK in which the UK Government informed the European Commission about Scotland's initiative of introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol, Romania does not support the implementation of this measure as it is considered to be restrictive for the following reasons:

1. This proposal would artificially distort the market competitiveness of alcoholic beverages, eliminating its main operating criteria, namely supply and demand, which are major determinants of European market rules.

Introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol is a measure that would disrupt the market by eliminating the principles of transparency, fair competition and free movement of goods, due to the following aspects:

a) the European single market is based on clear, fair competition rules and is equally open to all economic operators;

b) this measure would only impact certain brands of alcoholic beverages, depending on their alcohol content;

c) the minimum price per unit of product would "discriminate" against certain products as part of Intra-Community trade;

d) the minimum price per unit of product can be a quantitatively restrictive measure that would change consumption habits and, most likely, would reduce demand, which would have a discriminatory effect on manufacturers of alcoholic goods in other EU Member states which supply such goods;

e) the minimum unit price enforced per unit of alcohol would significantly increase retail prices, which would have a large negative impact on encouraging innovation, research and development, and even investment in order to reduce manufacturing costs and increase sales volumes.

2. The unilateral enforcement of a minimum price of £0.50 per unit of alcohol breaches the CAP rules and European Council (EC) Regulation No 1234/2007, which prevents the implementation of fixed prices.

3. In 2010, the European Court of Justice rejected the health objectives proposed as justification for minimum prices, stipulating that Member States can make use of other solutions which are commercially less restrictive than increasing the price of goods and protect the free price formation principle. (An example from the tobacco industry is Case C-216/98 Commission v Hellenic Republic; Case-82/77 the Kingdom of the Netherlands v van Tiggele paragraph 18).

4. This solution would penalise responsible consumers for the behaviour displayed by a minority who are affected by the problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

It is clear that the measure is addressed to all consumers, including those who consume alcohol in moderation, who significantly outnumber excessive consumers.