Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, has been told that her minimum price per unit for alcohol may be illegal under European law.
The European Court of Justice said that the measure would only be legal under European law if there was no other way of achieving the same health benefits, such as by taxation.
Yves Bot, the court’s Advocate General, said in a statement:
“A Member State can choose rules imposing a minimum retail price of alcoholic beverages, which restricts trade within the European Union and distorts competition, rather than increased taxation of those products, only on condition that it shows that the measure chosen presents additional advantages or fewer disadvantages by comparison with the alternative measure”.
“While we must await the final outcome of this legal process, the Scottish government remains certain that minimum unit pricing is the right measure for Scotland to reduce the harm that cheap, high-strength alcohol causes our communities”.