The European Commission has the option to comment on the complaints

The European Commission has the option to comment on the complaints

Italy has joined Bulgaria in objecting to Scotland's plans for minimum pricing of  alcohol.

The Italian government has lodged a “detailed opinion” with the European Commission against the plans for a GBP0.50 minimum unit price. Bulgaria lodged its own formal objection last week.

The European Spirits Organisation, which opposes minimum pricing as an illegal barrier to trade, said it had expected the Italian complaint and hopes it will not be the last.

“If you think of the countries where the effects of this will be most keenly felt then it tends to be producers of wine, which tends to have a lower cost base than anything you're going to find in Scotland,” European Spirits Organisation DG Paul Skehan told just-drinks today (21 September).

“So it's not terribly surprising that the Italians and the Bulgarians have come in. Others, like Spain, could come in, but we're not confident as were about Italy.”

The objections will delay the consultation period for the Scottish government's plans to 27 December, Skehan said, adding that the European Commission has the option to comment on the complaints.

Plans for a minimum price are fiercely opposed by many in the drinks industry, who argue it will do little to solve alcohol-related issues.

This week, the head of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association told just-drinks the case could go all the way to the European Court of Justice.