First Act As New Justice Minister: A Bill Allowing Sale Of Alcohol In Private Shops - The Reykjavik Grapevine

First Act As New Justice Minister: A Bill Allowing Sale Of Alcohol In Private Shops

Published September 19, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Art Bicnick

In her first proposed legislative act as the new Minister of Justice, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir intends to submit a bill to Parliament, likely next March, that if made law would allow for the sale of alcoholic beverages in private shops, RÚV reports. The issue is one often associated with Áslaug in particular, and the Independence Party in general.

Áslaug’s bill would allow for domestic alcohol producers to sell their products at the point of production, and would also allow Icelanders to buy alcohol online. This is actually in keeping with an EEA law, which Iceland will adopt next year, that prohibits discrimination of the sale of goods and services based on location. As it is now, only the state monopoly alcohol and tobacco company, ÁTVR, is permitted to sell alcohol.

Efforts to legalise the sale of alcohol in private shops has been a pet project of sorts for the Independence Party. A bill that would legalise it has been introduced in Parliament and subsequently failed five times now. The subject is still a contentious one for the Icelandic public; until very recently, most Icelanders were against alcohol sales’ privatisation, although a poll from last year showed slightly more in favour than against it.

The matter is apparently one close to Áslaug’s heart. She spoke of the ease with which Icelanders could buy alcohol online if ÁTVR were not involved four years ago, and also received considerable public attention (and criticism) for once remarking on the record that it would be nice to be able to buy white wine with one’s lobster tails from the same shop. The backlash against Áslaug’s remarks resulted in a backlash against the backlash, making this particular legislative plan all the more ironic.

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