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Swedish government split on rural booze sales
Systembolaget on Karlavägen in Stockholm, March

Swedish government split on rural booze sales

Published: 17 Nov 2010 14:14 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Nov 2010 14:14 GMT+01:00

A government inquiry has proposed that farm stores in Sweden be allowed to sell both locally produced and imported alcoholic products, while critics argue that the state-owned Systembolaget retail monopoly is at risk.

The inquiry is set to propose allowing the sale of alcohol from privately owned farm shops, both made on site but also imported brands, according to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily.

The question has split the ruling centre-right Alliance government.

The Moderates and the Centre Party are in favour of the proposal, while the Liberal Party and Christian Democrats are against it, who argue that it may risk the future of the Swedish alcohol retail monopoly, Systembolaget.

Liberal party economic policy spokesperson Carl B. Hamilton argued that the EU could challenge Systembolaget's exemption from EU competition rules that it was granted when Sweden entered the union in 1995.

"For those who wish to maintain a restrictive alcohol policy, there are major risks with the proposal," Hamilton told DN on Wednesday.

The Christian Democrats also expressed concern over Systembolaget's monopoly in Sweden, with economic policy spokesperson Anders Sällström arguing that it could "loosen" Systembolaget's monopoly.

According to EU law expert Lotty Nordling, who leads the inquiry, the proposal to extend legislation to the sale of imported liquor as well as locally produced, has been developed in response to EU criticism of a similar system in Finland which it is claimed favours domestic brands.

However, the proposal does include limits: 1 litre of spirits, 3 litres of wine or 5 litres of beer per person. Total annual farm alcohol sales would be restricted to 10,000 litres annually.

According to a recent Sifo poll, Swedish support for Systembolaget's monopoly has fallen for the first time in years, but remains popular with around 66 percent backing the status quo.

The inquiry is set to be concluded by the end of the year, while legislative proposals will likely be developed during 2011.

TT/The Local/vt (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:42 November 17, 2010 by balbright
"According to a recent Sifo poll...Systembolaget...remains popular with around 66 percent backing the status quo." Not only did the Swede's invent Stockholm Syndrome, they are showing it's alive and well.
15:48 November 17, 2010 by Kevin Harris
When Apoteket lost its monopoly, we heard that the sky would fall in. The sky didn't fall in, we just got a lot more pharmacies which were a lot more efficient. Even Apoteket has raised its game to meet the competition.

Monopolies are never, never good. They breed laziness, arrogance and corruption. Those adjectives fit Systemet very well.
16:36 November 17, 2010 by Swedesmith
Hey maw, get that still out of the barn. We're back in business.
17:14 November 17, 2010 by Nemesis
I hope this goes ahead.

It will help boost the local economy in rural areas.

As for Systembolaget. The sooner that monoploy is broken up, the better.
00:36 November 18, 2010 by kzjh72
"The inquiry is set to propose allowing the sale of alcohol from privately owned farm shops, both made on site but also imported brands, according to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily."

Made on site???? That sounds like "Hembrännt" (Moonshine)
08:40 November 18, 2010 by samwise
the government can't be off the hook if they impose the monopoly, the system has to serve all people equally, so, build a liquor store in every village, no discrimination against remote rural residents.

It won't be an issue in a free market system, because it runs on free choice, it honors personal responsibility. Everything becomes straightforward and natural, like it was prior to any government ever existed.
12:07 November 18, 2010 by jazzIIIlove
I hate SystemBolaget...I want to buy my stuff where and whenever I want...
13:13 November 18, 2010 by Alf Garnett
Bout time the monopoly was put to rest, I want to be able to go to ICA & buy some more booze if I run short.

Not sure if Svensson can cope with the fact of having Off Licences & proper wines & beers on sale in the local super. Keep syetemet as an option if required but give us a choice.
13:41 November 18, 2010 by timhipkiss
It's not surprising to see that most non-Swedes find Systembolaget archaic and annoying, while Swedes think their alcohol policies are the best in the world. I think Systembolaget is ok as a shop (compared to most high street off licences in the UK), but would like to be able to buy beer and wine with food in the supermarket, to highlight that these really are quite civilised grocery items.

As to the esatablishment of new pharmacy chains - that's been great. I'm just waiting for Boots to come over here, so I can buy all the normal medical supplies that are mysteriously absent from Sweden (e.g. Germolene antiseptic cream instead of buying its chemical constuents in plain plastic bottles, and Lemsip/Beecham's Powders instead of Paracetamol tablets + anticongestant tablets + vitamin C)...
13:13 November 19, 2010 by jamtlandtom
I didn't know there are "Farm" shops in Sweden but anyway if the sale of alcohol had been allowed in village shops over the years I reckon there would be more villages with shops (including ours, as it is a chore to travel some distance to shop for the basics. Of course one could be organised enough to plan....................but that is another tale!!! Maybe if this proposal was carried through( and it only seems to be the anally retentative Politicians who think they know how WE should live who are against the notion),Village shops may reopen.

There was a lot of squealing when Apotek's monopoly was ended but the whole of that market has been invigorated and Apotek has generally woken up to the 21st century.
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