Alcohol distributors and manufacturers are up in arms in Britain. That’s because Prime Minister David Cameron, in a move that appears to be highly motivated to hide the “granny tax” on pensioners, just unveiled a new strategy on alcohol tax.
In order to tackle the difficult issue of binge-drinking, the Prime Minister is imposing a minimum price of approximately 40p per until on alcoholic drinks. Drink firms, however, are claiming that the proposal is illegal under EU competition law.
Labour’s former Home Secretary Alan Johnson actually said recently that he had considered such a plan when he was in office, but that he had been told many times by government legal advisers that it would be illegal both by British and by European laws.
The idea behind the current plan would be to increase the price of super-strength ciders, cheap vodkas and special brew lagers to try to keep binge-drinking down.
Critics argue that the plan will punish responsible drinkers who are on low incomes. Gavin Partington from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association threatens that the government should expect court battles. As he said,
“We think this is going to lead ultimately to legal challenges. Minimum pricing is illegal under European laws. It would be a drinks company taking the case, or perhaps a group of drinks companies. It is too early to say at the moment… but looking at case law, there is every reason to believe it is illegal.”