Sweden’s monopoly system will be challenged in the courts later this year.
Two recent cases brought against Sweden by the European Union – which claims that the Swedish monopoly ‘violates the principle of the free circulation of goods’ – will be decided in the European Court of Justice, ‘probably this summer or in the autumn,’ European Commission representative Caroline Stege told decanter.com.
Though part of the European Union since 1995, the Swedish government still retains a retail monopoly – Systembolaget – with some 400 liquor stores, restaurants and caterers, a restrictive practice that outlaws wine purchasing from independent intermediaries, like Internet sites.
Much of the criticism directed at the Scandinavian monopoly system – Norway and Finland have their own versions – come from Internet-based wine companies
Many are poised to have great sales all over Europe, except in Scandinavia, which is especially galling for them as the Bordeaux 2005 en primeur campaign takes off.
‘Sweden is still working out the commitments it made when it became a member of the EU,’ said Jean-Michel Deluc, head sommelier for the Internet-based wine seller ChateauOnline.
‘We have had a problem with Sweden because of this law, and I am glad that the Swedes are being challenged in the European court,’ he told decanter.com.
‘It would be better for the Swedish consumer because their monopoly only represents about 2000 types of wines worldwide, and we alone have 5000 wines from all over the world ready to be sold.’
Systembolaget has released a video showing the benefits of restricted alcohol sales, which include apparent reductions in alcohol-related death, illness and abuse. http://www.dearmrb.se/
Written by Panos Kakaviatos