Neil defiant on minimum pricing

THE Scottish Government remains confident a minimum price for alcohol is justified following a fresh objection from the European Commission.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said he will continue to make the case for minimum pricing “in the strongest possible terms” after the European Commission reportedly raised concerns over the policy, which aims to introduce a minimum unit price of 50p.
Five EU countries (Bulgaria, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain) are also said to have raised concerns that the policy, which was passed by MSPs earlier this year, may breach free trade rules.
Minimum pricing is also set to be challenged in the Court of Session by the Scotch Whisky Association, which also lodged a complaint with the European Commission.
As SLTN went to press, the Advocate General for Scotland, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, reportedly said the UK government, which is proposing its own floor price of 40p down south, will back the Scottish Government when the policy is challenged.
Health secretary Alex Neil said: “We are confident that we can demonstrate that a minimum price is justified on the basis of public health and social grounds and I will continue to press the case for minimum pricing in the strongest possible terms.”