Monday, July 26, 2004
More Pressure on Sweden's High Alcohol Taxes
Vice Squad has been following the alcohol policy events in Northern Europe in the last few months. Finland pre-emptively cut its alcohol taxes to try to forestall the expected wave of personal imports from new EU member Estonia. Sweden has been feeling the pressure, too, from the EU-mandated liberalization of controls over imported, non-commercial alcohol. Imports of alcohol are way up, and tax receipts from the Swedish state monopoly seller Systembolaget are way down:
Systembolaget sales have been in free fall since the European Union last January forced Sweden to raise the legal limit on alcohol imports, undermining the drinks monopoly and allowing Swedes to shift crates and crates of booze back from neighboring countries where alcohol is much cheaper.
In January 2004, Swedes purchased 85 percent more alcohol abroad than in the same month a year earlier, and by March those imports had doubled, [Swedish newspaper] Dagens Nyheter reported.