EU-signals for a more restrictive alcohol policy

BRUSSELS “A part time victory for restrictive alcohol policy!“ says the Swedish member of the EU parliament, Mr. Olle Schmidt, about changes in a proposal about selective purchase tax within the union.

The committee voted for to halve the import quotes on alcohol and tobacco instead of entirely abolishes them as the Commission wanted to.

The European Commission wants to change the rules for selective purchase tax within the union as today interprets and applies differentially among the different EU-countries. To achieve a harmonizing the Commission wants to in fully take away the so-called indicative levels for importing for own usage, as today are enormous especially according to alcohol.

But instead the committee voted for a halving of the quotes (see footnote). This is in line with the Nordic Governments policies that have demanded this since 2004.
It is rare and occurs seldom that the conservative and more alcohol allowing powers in the EU-Parliament are losing in the matters of alcohol politics.

– It isn’t plausible to build the inner market on alcohol tourism and tax competitions that make it impossible for the authorities to have a responsible public health policy, says Mr. Schmidt to Drugnews.

The Swedish alcohol policy has during a long time been seen as deviant, but now Mr. Schmidt can see signs that its making´ pitch.
-The very heavy drinking isn’t just a Swedish problem; it’s a Union problem. To come to terms with this big issue it takes common conclusions, he says.

The Parliaments committee resolution is welcomed by the Swedish IOGT-NTO organization.

– This is a very important signal to the decision makers, within the Union, that alcohol isn’t just any ordinary goods. And the high quotes of import of alcohol must now be taken down, says the General of the Swedish IOGT-NTO Mr. Sven-Olov Carlsson to Drugnews.

The parliament has only an advisory part, and the EU financial ministers take the final decision. Beside all ready mention changes of roles, the Commission is also having a decision to take about the minimum taxes of alcohol.

• Footnote: If the quotes for import of alcohol and tobacco should be halved within the union, the figures of allowed amounts would be; at the most of 5 litres of spirits, 10 litres of stronger wine, 45 litres of ordinary wine, 55 litres of bear. Tobacco – at the most of 400 cigarettes, 200 of cigarillos, 100 cigars and 0,5 kilo of smoking tobacco.