Internet booze ban could be axed

Sweden should allow people to buy alcohol abroad, for instance on foreign websites, and have it delivered home, an official inquiry into the country's alcohol laws is to propose, according to Sveriges Radio.

“It should be allowed for a private individual to import spirits, wine and beer from within the EU, as long as he or she is over 20,” commission chairwoman Anita Werner said.

Public Health Minister Maria Larsson set up the inquiry in September. She commissioned Werner to come up with proposals for a change in the law to make it legal to import alcohol for personal use.

The move to change the law follows the so-called Rosengren Case at the European Court of Justice, in which the court found that the Swedish ban on private imports of alcohol could not be defended on the grounds that it restricts alcohol consumption or that it protects young people from alcohol.

Werner wants her proposals to become law in July. But she said she did not believe that the change would lead to an increase in the number of people ordering online, as private imports tended to be expensive. The alcohol is taxed in Sweden, even if it has already been taxed in the country from which it was ordered. The tax can be recovered from the country of origin, but recovering the tax is usually a complicated process.

The full alcohol inquiry will be complete in December 2008. It will look at a number of issues, including whether farms could sell their own alcoholic drinks without harming Sweden’s Systembolaget alcohol retail monopoly.