Will File Legal Complaint To EFTA If Alcohol Is Privatised - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Will File Legal Complaint To EFTA If Alcohol Is Privatised

Published February 3, 2016

Photo by
Art Bicnick

A recent letter to parliament points out numerous flaws in a controversial bill to allow the sale of alcohol in private shops.

RÚV reports that the letter in question has been sent to every member of parliament, several ministries, the Icelandic Competition Authority and the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA). While signed by Supreme Court lawyer Stefán Geir Þórisson representing his clients, who these clients are is not disclosed.

The letter points out that the State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland (ÁTVR) has, for many years, been able to operate under a series of legal exceptions from ESA. If a current bill in parliament which would allow the sale of alcohol in private shops is passed unchanged, the letter says, a formal complaint will be filed to ESA.

Amongst the concerns raised is that the bill itself would affect numerous existing pieces of legislation about alcohol, amongst them, laws regarding fair competition on the market and the banning of advertisement for alcoholic beverages. The bill as it stands now, the letter argues, has not thought these consequences through, and must be changed accordingly.

As reported, most Icelanders are against the sale of alcohol in private shops. Vilhjálmur Árnason, an MP for the Independence Party, has been trying repeatedly to legalise the private wholesale sale of alcohol. He has submitted a bill to that effect in the past, with his last attempt blocked by the Welfare Committee majority.

Currently, the State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland (ÁTVR) controls all sales of alcohol. By law, it may only be sold wholesale in state-run alcohol shops. The “beer” offered for sale in grocery stores is actually very light beer, with an alcohol content of about 2%.

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