Thursday 29 November 2012

They Got There Eventually

The Telegraph eventually notices the elephant:

The European Commission has sent a nine-page legal opinion to the British Government warning that minimum prices are illegal – and that the Treasury should increase duty on alcoholic drinks if it wishes to raise the price.

The legal opinion states that setting a minimum price is illegal under laws governing the free movement of goods.Thirteen European countries, including major wine producers such as France and Italy, are understood to be preparing to take the British government to court to stop the imposition of a minimum price.
One wonders, as this was so obvious, why politicians kept banging on about it when they knew it was illegal? All it does is show up their own impotence:
However, ministers appear to have decided to defy the legal warning and yesterday unveiled proposals to introduce a 45p minimum price for each unit of alcohol. 
Why bother? They will lose...there's enough precedents by the ECJ to show this to be the case. Perhaps this will be one of mythical powers Cameron will claim that he will try to claw back.


  1. "All it does is show up their own impotence:"
    Should that be incompetence?
    or maybe this is one of those times a writer is spoilt for choice and has to settle on only one descriptor.

  2. I think the question you should be asking TBF (now that you have revealed this piece of (in)competence by our government)...

    ...Who is going to pay the Commissions' fines?

  3. Echo answers who!

  4. With France kicking up a storm, I'm beginning to wonder if "minimum pricing" is a new and devious form of protectionism.

  5. @Anon you could well be right, Politicians would prefer to show incompetence than show impotence. The former means they still have power, the latter doesn't.

    @right_writes We know that answer to that one...

    @Fausty funnily enough Sweden tried it for precisely that reason some years ago, to try to protect their own brewers. They lost the case in the ECJ

  6. It's obviously a cunning plot to make the EU popular ie The Eu protects us from the lunacy of our national governments.

  7. @Anon, I did think that, and it's a good thought...but two things make me doubt that theory.

    The Cameron administration has shown itself to be woefully inept in nearly all departments I'm not sure they can be that clever.

    And the issue has been raised on and off for over 10 years....If they were to be so cynical I would only expect the news to crop up when the EU dominated the news...but it hasn't.

  8. This tells me that UK governments may be very keen on the EU for a number of narrow considerations, but they don't have a clue how it works or what it's really about.