CEEV welcomes CJEU ruling on Scottish MUP

Brussels, 23 December 2015 – We welcome the European Union's Court of Justice ruling on minimum unit pricing (MUP) of alcohol.

The European Court of Justice has confirmed that MUP restricts trade and competition and that it would be illegal to adopt MUP when other less restrictive measures are available for governments. In addition and in relation with the Wine Common Market Organisation legal framework, the Scottish government would have to demonstrate MUP's proportionality.

The Scottish Court will now need to deeply reflect on the content of CJEU judgement before issuing its judgement.

Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, Secretary General of CEEV said “This opinion marks a significant step in the battle against MUP and confirms CEEV's belief that MUP is illegal under the European Union law.”

“It is time now to sit again around the table and discuss together on proven efficient measures to put in place to fight alcohol misuse. CEEV remains convinced that education and the "Wine in Moderation - Art de Vivre" (WIM) program should be at the centre of the debate. The wine sector firmly intends to continue promoting responsible and moderate wine drinking as a social and cultural norm.”

It should be recalled that alcohol-related deaths and harms have been decreasing in Scotland for a long time now, which suggests that measures in place are working.

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Notes to Editors:

Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV – 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 published in September and preceding the full judgment of the CJEU on the case already stated that MUP distorts trade and competition and it would be illegal to adopt it when other less problematic alternatives such as excise duties exists.