Health Minister Bent Høie fears that proposals for deregulation of alcohol sales in Finland and Iceland may indirectly put pressure on the alcohol Monopoly here at home.
In Iceland, the government manifesto secured a promise to discontinue alcohol monopoly by 2018. In Finland, there are several changes in the works.
The maximum allowable alcohol content in beverages on shop shelves will be increased to 5.5 percent. Moreover, it opens up for direct ‘bottle sale’ from pubs and restaurants, writes Vårt Land.
– It is of course up to these countries to decide. But it is also so that it is the Nordic countries – except from Denmark – that have stood together around a licenced State Monopoly system.
What is about to take place in Finland in reality undermines the Finnish monopoly, and then there will only be Norway and Sweden who are left with a State Monopoly scheme, says Bent Høie.
Norway was allowed to keep the State Monopoly on retail sales of alcoholic beverages after joining the EEA in 1994, and Sweden received acceptance to retain Systembolaget as an EU member.
In both cases the rationale of EU is on health policy grounds. It is however believed that the arrangements can be more difficult to defend in the EU if it begins to crumble from within.
The Health Minister believes it is a paradox that a number of European countries are moving in a ‘Nordic’ direction on alcohol policy, while the Nordic countries are doing the opposite. Høie now plans to discuss the new situation with her Nordic counterparts under the joint ministerial meeting in May.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today