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The introduction of minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland has been rejected by the European Courts.
The legislation for a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol was passed i
n Holyrood in 2012 but, this morning, the European Court of Justice said it would infringe EU rules on free trade.
Yves Bot, the Advocate General for the courts, said minimum pricing could only be imposed if it could be shown that no other possibility – such as increasing taxes – was able to tackle alcohol-related public health issues.
The courts will now deliberate before delivering its final judgment, which could take up to six months.
The Scottish Whisky Association had challenged minimum alcohol pricing along with the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).
The WSTA welcomes the European court’s decision as well as recognising the role of the drinks industry to customer health.
Miles Beale, WSTA chief executive said: “We have always argued that minimum pricing would restrict the free movement of goods, competition and consumer choice, as well as failing to tackle irresponsible consumption by the minority that misuse alcohol.
The drinks industry needs to continue to play its part in tackling alcohol related harm in Scotland and the rest of the UK; and we remain committed to working in partnership with all levels of government, including the Scottish Government, to address these issues in local communities.”
Previously, the WSTA argued that the Scottish legislation could cause a greater risk to retailers that is not necessarily being considered in the law.
The latest move against minimum alcohol pricing could affect similar proposals in Wales. In July, Wales announced a plan to also introduce 50p minimum pricing, which the National Assembly claim will reduce crime by targeting heavy drinkers.
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