Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Never trust an archipelago. Aaland is an autonomous part of Finland that is culturally and linguistically Swedish. Smokeless tobacco snus can be sold legally in Sweden, but nowhere else in the European Union -- and Finland, including semi-autonomous Aaland, is part of the EU. Ferries out of Aaland had been selling snus, so the EU took the semi-Swedish snus-sellers to court, leading Vice Squad to speculate that Aaland might choose to leave the EU rather than give up snus. Well, Aaland lost the court case, but dropped its talk of EU secession. Vice Squad was duped into thinking that Aaland had fallen into line, and even committed that view to print. But tonight we learn that Aaland hasn't actually bothered to comply with the court order by curtailing snus sales. The EU is playing hardball: "The European Commission decided on Tuesday to impose a significant fine on the province." The fine is at 2 million euros, and rising, and that semi-autonomous status also applies to EU fines, for which Aaland, and not Finland more generally, is responsible.