Swedish Alcohol Taxes in EU Court

Sweden’s taxes on alcohol are to be examined in the European Court of Justice this week.

This follows a European Commission complaint that Sweden imposes higher levies wine than on strong beer. The tax on strong beer is around 22 US cents per percentage point of alcohol, while that on wine is around 15 times higher.

The European Commission says Sweden is protecting its beer producers and breaking EU competition rules by putting foreign winemakers at a disadvantage.

Sweden says for the Commission to win its case, it will have to prove that the difference is so great that it makes people choose beer instead of wine, and a Foreign Ministry spokesperson points out that while the gap widened in 1997 when the excise on beer was lowered, the duty on wine was also dropped in 2001.