Scottish Government take minimum pricing to European Court

The Scottish Government made its case for introducing minimum unit pricing of alcohol at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg today.

The court held an oral hearing, which also allowed EU member states the opportunity to make representations, on the Scottish Government’s proposal to introduce a 50p minimum price for a unit of alcohol.

Having heard the evidence the court will now produce a preliminary ruling on the policy, which will be issued later this year. That will then be referred to Edinburgh’s Court of Session which will make its decision on the appeal being lodged by parts of the alcohol industry.

Minimum unit pricing was passed unopposed by the Scottish Parliament in 2012. The Scotch Whisky Association mounted a legal challenge in Court of Session, which found overwhelmingly in favour of the Scottish Government. However, this decision was appealed by the SWA, and the appeal court sought advice from the European Court in 2014.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said, “Introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol is the best, most targeted way to tackle the affordability of cheap, strong alcohol consumed by heavy drinkers without penalising moderate drinkers. It will reduce the many harms caused by excessive drinking, as part of the broad range of actions we are taking.

“I’m confident that we have a strong case, and I’m proud that Scotland is leading the way in Europe on this important issue.”

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