SWEDEN: Sweden stands firm in EU import row

By | 6 June 2007

Sweden will introduce new tax measures to protect against potential losses resulting from a ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ)  reaffirming that Sweden has no right to stop residents of Sweden from purchasing alcohol products over the internet from other EU countries. The ECJ ruled that Sweden's traditional blocking of Internet sales is in breach of the EU's directives covering free movement of goods.

The Swedish government would continue to defend its state alcohol monopoly and related taxation policies even if the EU insisted on demanding it remove all barriers to cross-border purchases and imports, Finance Minister Anders Borg said today (6 June).

"Our position is firm. The Government will implement what import and tax laws are needed to ensure the state receives taxes for privately imported alcohol and that state tax revenues are not changed. We will do everything in our power to protect the alcohol policy and our tax rates," said Borg.

Strengthened taxation measures could be used as effective tools to make internet-based alcohol purchases and imports "cost prohibitive", said Borg.

"The state has appointed Systembolaget as the distributor of alcohol products in Sweden. We will defend this situation with the aim of retaining the present system," said Borg.

The ECJ ruling was applauded by Kari Sjöblom, the CEO of the Swedish wine import company Vinboden.

"The Government is concerned that cheaper alcohol imports will cause more social unrest and health problems. There is no evidence this is likely to happen. As for taxes and costs, prices in Germany are so low that it will still be cheaper to import even when Swedish taxes
are added," said Sjöblom.

Sectors: Beer & cider, Spirits, Wine

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