The strict guidelines of the State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland (ÁTVR) go farther than the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) allows, and damages could be awarded to alcohol importers.
Many will remember the controversy which arose last February, when ÁTVR decided that shiraz wine endorsed by heavy metal band Motörhead could not be imported on moral grounds. Their primary reason for the rejection was that “The name of the band is a reference to users of the illegal drug amphetamine, and the lyrics of the band’s songs are regularly about war, the abuse of power, irresponsible sexual activity and drug abuse.”
This refers to ÁTVR’s regulations that labels of alcohol may only have information related to the brand, the ingredients, and how the product is made. These regulations also ban any packaging they consider to be encouraging violence, sex, illegal activities, religion or political persuasions.
RÚV now reports that according to the opinion EFTA gave to Reykjavík District Court regarding a brand of cider that was banned from sale because the label featured naked female legs, ÁTVR’s regulations are too strict for European Union regulations. As a member of EFTA, Iceland is obliged to abide regulations set by the EU. The opinion furthermore said that alcohol importers who feel they were cost money as a result of ÁTVR’s regulations could conceivably now sue the institution for damages.
No importer has yet threatened to sue ÁTVR at the time of this writing.