Swedish line wins in EU alcohol case

A new ruling from the EU court has supported the Swedish government's line that alcohol bought over the Internet from another European country should be liable to Swedish alcohol tax.

The European Court of Justice said that “only products acquired and transported personally by private individuals are exempt from excise duty in the members state of importation.”

The case was brought by a wine club in the Netherlands, which had been charged Dutch duty on wine delivered by truck from France. The wine club considered that duty should be payable in France, while the Dutch government believed that the wine club should pay the higher Dutch duty.

The Netherlands’ supreme court had asked the European Court to interpret the directive which states that in the case of products acquired by private individuals and transported by them “duty should be charged in the member state in which they are acquired.”

The ruling will delight the Swedish government and the Systembolaget alcohol monopoly chain. Had the ruling gone the other way, it could have opened the floodgates for cheap alcohol bought over the Internet from other European countries to be delivered to Sweden.