In a ruling last week, the court of the European Free Trade Organisation (EFTA) said Norway had failed to fulfil its obligations from the EEA-agreement by discriminating against imported alcohol.

At present Norway has two forms of sale at the retail level where beer with an alcohol content between 2.5 and 4.75% by volume, mainly produced domestically, may be sold outside the State controlled wine and spirits monopoly (Vinmonopolet). Other alcoholic beverages with the same alcohol content, mostly imported, are only allowed to be sold through the Monopoly.
The Norwegian Government would, by this ruling, either be forced to sell beer at the Vinmonopolet or allow the sale of alcoholic beverage with the same alcohol content in grocery stores.

In a comment to media the Norwegian Minister of Social Affairs, Ingjerd Schau, stated that it is not an option for the Government to move the sale of beer to the Vinmonopolet.
According to the sale figures from Vinmonopolet, the sale of spirits increased by 9.6% in February compared to February 2002.

In the same period the sales of wine increased by 5.6% while the sales of fortified wine were unchanged. The Norwegian excise duties on alcohol were reduced by 15% on spirits and 5% on wine in January.