Plans to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol in Scotland have hit their first significant hurdle – an objection from Bulgaria.
According to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), the Bulgarian government has formally objected to the European Commission about the plans for a minimum price of £0.50 per unit of alcohol, which were approved by the Scottish parliament in April this year.
The move means that the consultation period for the Scottish proposals at EU level will be extended by another three months, to 27 December this year.
Critics of minimum pricing have maintained that the plans contravene European Union trade rules, despite claims to the contrary from their supporters.
WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: ‘We are not surprised that concerns about the legality of minimum unit pricing have been formally notified by the Bulgarian government to the European Commission.
‘The extended timetable for consideration of the proposals provides an opportunity for other countries to register their opposition and for the European Commission to seek an explanation from the UK government about the legality of the Scottish Government’s proposals.’
However, the Scottish government claimed the development was ‘not unexpected’ and added: ‘Under European law we need to show minimum pricing of alcohol is justified on the basis of public health and social grounds.
‘We are confident it is justified in Scotland and that we will be able to demonstrate this.’
Written by Richard Woodard