The EU Journalism Fellowship blog

MINIMUM pricing plans for booze have come under fire from the Bulgarian Government.

The 50p minimum unit price for alcohol was passed by MSPs in Holyrood earlier this year.

But the Bulgarian Government has objected to the European Commission about the plans, which are expected to be given the go-ahead this month.

The Bulgarian Government permanent representative to the EU in Brussels press officer confirmed an objection had been made.

She said: “The measure would have a restrictive impact on producers of alcohol products from other EU member states which introduce such products on Scotland’s territory.

“It may also give rise to reciprocal measures from third countries which may negatively affect European exports of wine and spirits.”

Bulgaria is the first European member state to submit an objection to the European Commission about the minimum unit pricing proposals.

The complaint means the consideration period for the Scottish Government’s plans will be extended by three months, to December 27.

Wine and Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale today welcomed the objection.

He said the extended timetable for consideration of the proposals gave other countries the opportunity to raise concerns.

A European Commission spokesman confirmed the objection meant its decision on whether the law could be implemented had been delayed until after Christmas.

A Scottish Government spokesman said the objection was no surprise but added: “We are confident it is justified in Scotland and that we will be able to demonstrate this.”

Campbell Evans, the Scotch Whisky Association’s director of government and consumer affairs, claimed minimum pricing had previously been deemed illegal.

He said: “For 30 years, minimum pricing has consistently been found by the European Court to breach EU law.

“It is therefore no surprise that the commission has been asked to investigate the Scottish proposal more thoroughly by Bulgaria, given that background.”

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