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Wine disadvantaged by Swedish tax rates

Published:  23 July, 2008

Sweden's different tax rates for beer and wine are in breach of EU law.

Advocate general Paolo Mengozzi, an adviser to the European Court of Justice, said in a report to the court that taxing beer and wine at different rates was putting wine products at a "disadvantage" compared to beers sold in Sweden's liquor stores, which are owned by Systembolaget, the state-owned alcohol monopoly.

"The fiscal regime is effectively influencing the potential consumption of wine and putting it at a disadvantage," he said.

The European Commission is taking Sweden to court arguing that high tax rates on wine unfairly discriminate against the products under EU competition rules.

Excise rates in Sweden are directly related to the amount of alcohol they contain.

The court will consider Mengozzi's opinion and a judgement announced in a few months.

This is the second time Sweden has come under fire for its draconian alcohol laws.

In June, the European Court of Justice ruled that Swedish law banning citizens from importing alcohol themselves, to bypass the state-owned monopoly, were unjustified.