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Working group to investigate the restricting of cross-border distance selling of alcoholic beverages

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 22.12.2017 10.00
Press release 206/2017
Working group to investigate the restricting of cross-border distance selling of alcoholic beverages

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has appointed a working group to investigate the restricting of cross-border distance selling of alcoholic beverages and to draw up proposals for new rules. In completing its task, the working group must take account of the conditions set by the Finnish Parliament. The working group’s term is from 21 December 2017 to 31 March 2018.

Parliament calls for clearer rules for the distance selling of alcoholic beverages

The current regulations concerning online trade in alcoholic beverages from abroad, i.e. cross-border distance selling, are unclear. These regulations have been interpreted in conjunction with the case referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (C-198/2014 Visnapuu). According to the Court, the prohibition on distance selling of alcoholic beverages from abroad, as laid down in Finland’s current Alcohol Act, is in agreement with EU law under certain conditions. The Helsinki Court of Appeal discussed the case in spring 2017, and since the court’s judgement was appealed, the final ruling now depends on the decision to be issued by the Supreme Court.

When voting on the Alcohol Act on 19 December, the Finnish Parliament required that the Government clarify the regulations concerning distance selling. The clarification must take account of the requirements laid down by the EU Court of Justice and the future decision to be issued by the Supreme Court in the Visnapuu case. Parliament requires that Alko will continue to have the exclusive right to retail trade in alcoholic beverages. At the same time, it must be ensured that Finnish traders are on a par with foreign sellers of alcoholic beverages. In addition, the current licensing system for selling alcoholic beverages must be maintained.

The preparatory work must also take account of the requirements set for the smooth collection of excise duties.

The working group is chaired by Director Kari Paaso of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The members represent the key ministries, the supervisory authorities and business. The working group will hear various experts in the course of its work.

Inquiries:

Ismo Tuominen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 63341 (NB: Present until 22 December)
Kari Paaso, Director, tel. +358 2951 63340 (NB: Present as of 28 December)
Hanna-Maija Kause, Special Adviser to the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, tel. +358 50 5667949