Summary of comments on the comprehensive reform of the Alcohol Act completed
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has completed a summary of the comments submitted on the comprehensive reform of the Alcohol Act. The deadline for the comments was 16 January 2017 and, after requests for extension, a total of 130 comments were submitted by early March. In addition to comments from authorities, expert institutions, business operators and organisations, even many private citizens gave feedback especially regarding online sales of alcohol.
Most of the commentators gave feedback on issues concerning their sector or on individual sections in the Act. Typically, some sections elicited both positive and negative feedback. Deregulation-related sections received the highest number of comments, and while some commentators welcomed the potential effects of deregulation, some considered them undesirable.
All in all, commentators expressing disapproval of the draft proposal outnumbered slightly those who expressed approval. The negative statements concerned, for example, the provisions deregulating retail sale and serving of alcohol and the associated concern for public health and security. As positive features in the draft proposal, commentators mentioned clearer regulations and the dismantling of outdated regulations.
Government proposal to Parliament in spring
According to Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Juha Rehula, the comprehensive reform of the Alcohol Act is proceeding according to plans and the draft proposal will be amended based on the comments. The aim is to assess the economic, health and safety impacts of the reform, taking into account as many different aspects as possible.
In March or April the draft bill will be submitted for evaluation to the Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis (FCRIA). The FCRIA evaluation is estimated to take four weeks.
A notification procedure for the Alcohol Act is underway, in which the European Commission and other Member States will assess whether the proposed legislation is compatible with EU law. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will get these assessments after mid-March.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health estimates that the government proposal on the new Alcohol Act could be submitted to Parliament in May. The entry into force of the act will be decided during parliamentary discussions. The Act would enter into force on 1 January 2018 at the earliest.