EU internet laws threaten Systembolaget

Computer Sweden reported on Wednesday that Systembolaget, Sweden's state-owned alcohol monopoly, may be under threat due to a ruling expected from the EU Court.

Swedish Customs has repeatedly carried out raids targeting internet alcohol trades, but according to the EU Court this is illegal.

Ulf Bernitz, Professor of European Law at Stockholm University said, “I’ve seen the correspondence between the EU Court and the Swedish government and I am under the impression that the Swedish state could be sued for breaking EU regulations.”

The Swedish state insists that it must maintain control of alcohol supply for the sake of public health, while the taxes on alcohol – among the highest in the world – generate a large sum of money for the state.

While the current Swedish law states that private individuals are allowed to bring alcohol into the country, it also says that the “goods must be accompanied by the buyer in person”.

This is at the core of the legal dispute. The County Court in Skåne maintains that this is not right, while the Court in western Sweden says the opposite.

“It is clear that the Swedish state is losing this debate, both when it comes to confiscating goods and taxing alcohol”, said Bernitz.

If the law is passed at an EU level, the effects could be catastrophic for Systembolaget. But according to Björn Rydberg, the organisation’s information officer, that misses the point.

“Systembolaget does not exist for the state to earn money,” he told Computer Sweden.

“It is a question of controlled alcohol sales and consumption,” he said.

He believes internet trading of alcohol will increase overall consumption.

Sources: Computer Sweden