EU warns: SNP minimum booze price could distort competition

 
Lauren Fedor
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Sturgeon: We believe minimum unit pricing would save hundreds of lives in coming years (Source: Getty)
Scotland's first minister Sturgeon has said that she will “vigorously make the case” for a minimum unit price for alcohol in Scotland, even though a top official at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that the policy could restrict trade and distort competition.

ECJ advocate general Yves Bot said yesterday that it was “difficult to justify” the Scottish law setting a minimum unit price of 50p.

Bot said that the law appears to be “less consistent and effective than an increased taxation measure and may even be perceived as being discriminatory.”

He added that the law would only be upheld if the Scottish government could prove that no other mechanism could deliver the desired public health benefits.

Responding yesterday, Sturgeon said: “We welcome this opinion, in which the advocate general confirms that minimum unit pricing is not precluded by EU law, but sets out tests that the national court has to apply.

“We believe minimum unit pricing would save hundreds of lives in coming years and we will continue to vigorously make the case for this policy.”

The minimum alcohol price was first challenged by the Scottish Whisky Association.

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