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Government to tighten up e-booze sales law

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Government to tighten up e-booze sales law
09:30 CET+01:00
The Swedish government have said they intend to tighten the regulations over online sales and the home delivery of alcohol after the monopoly of Systembolaget was challenged by supermarket City Gross.

Last summer City Gross enraged the state-controlled Systembolaget by offering customers the chance to purchase wine along with their regular grocery shopping via Danish firm Winefinder. 

It prompted Systembolaget to report the supermarket to the police arguing that their move was not legal.

Sweden's minister for public health has said the government intends to tighten the law and establish a quick investigation into the matter.

"The purpose is to maintain Systembolaget's retail trade monopoly. If the legal scope isn't enough it needs to be clarified," said minister for public health Maria Larsson to Svenska Dagbladet.

Following the complaint by Systembolaget last summer an investigation began. However, it was brought to a halt by the public prosecutor in October as it was revealed that the law was unclear when applied to direct imports coming from independent intermediaries.

In the past several heavyweight Swedish bodies, including the Attorney General, have criticized the existing alcohol laws for being vague.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Winefinder is threatening to report Sweden to the European court of justice following the latest development.

"We don't threaten the Systembolaget's monopoly nor the public health's either. We follow the law but if the government puts up barriers to trade to the private importation of alcohol then we wil report Sweden to the European court of justice," Nielsen told SVD.

He added; "We don't sell in stores, we are a Danish e-commerce company that buys the transport services of City Gross."

An EU Court decision in 2007 opened up the possibility for consumers to privately import wine from other EU countries, despite the existence of the Systembolaget monopoly.

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The court ruled that the Swedish ban on imports of alcohol ran contrary to EU rules on the free movement of goods and has become known as the Rosengren ruling after the individual who took the case all the way to Brussels.

Mikael Wallteg of Systembolaget said that ruling was about enabling customers to purchase alcohol and bring it home via their own transport and not opening up the market to online purchases.

"We must have the same regulations as Finland and Norway where it is forbidden with commercial sales over the net," Wallteg told SVD.

The new investigation is set to be completed by next July.  

The Local/pr 

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