Minimum booze prices

Wine producers in the former Communist state, concerned over how their exports to Britain will be hit by a 50p minimum price per unit of alcohol, have encouraged their government to raise objections over the proposals to the European Commission.

The UK drinks industry expects the complaint from Bulgaria will spur other EU member states into action amid claims minimum alcohol pricing breaches European free trade laws.

Well quite. This is exactly why the minimum pricing plan breaches EU law.

Because it has asymmetric effects on producers in different countries. And that\’s a no no under EU law.

I can just about understand (if not necessarily agree with) the idea that Cameron is going along with this as he expects the law to be struck down. But what in God\’s name got into those originally proposing it? Why are they so stupid as to not realise that they\’re just not allowed to go around fixing prices in this manner?

In very cynical moments I equate it with things like the US Fair Tax proposal. Everyone knows it\’s not going to happen, everyone knows it wouldn\’t work if it did (for the plain and obvious reason that you cannot have a sales tax at 25% or so, it\’s got to be a VAT which the same people are vehemently against). But it provides a few cushy jobs for campaigners and the money to fund them continues to roll in. So why not carry on bleating?

1 thought on “Minimum booze prices”

  1. If one were in favour of a “making alcohol more expensive” policy, the sane way to do that would be to jack up booze tax.

    This would have almost exactly the same effect as minimum pricing -Keith Chav’s economy supermarket vodka and Rory Ned’s off-license Buckfast get significantly more expensive, whilst 20p on a pint in a pub or a fiver on a bottle of Ardbeg make bugger all difference to anyone. But the money would go to HMRC, not to Tesco and Diageo.

    So yes, minimum pricing, either it’s a guaranteed-to-fail scam promoted cynically, or it’s a way of figleafing against insane neo-prohibitionist trolls that also enriches the industry, who are vast contributors to HMRC.

    It’s notable that the major companies in the industry (DECLARED INTEREST: THESE INCLUDE MY CLIENTS) do not oppose minimum pricing. Because duh, if you can’t sell booze cheaper than Smirnoff currently is, then the chavs and the neds will buy Smirnoff at its current price rather than Glen’s Petrol.

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