Reader ‘s opinion The clutter of distance selling of alcoholic beverages needs to be clarified

Finland suspects the winegrower of violating the Alcohol Act, and the EU Commission suspects that the Alcohol Act is contrary to EU law.

9.2. 15:00

Last week many might wonder if we still live on the pages of the late Pahkasika humor magazine. On Wednesday (HS Editorial 3.2.) stated that the European Commission had opened an investigation into Finland’s alleged infringement of EU law. On Sunday (HS 7.2.) we read that the Finnish authorities had in turn launched a criminal investigation into a winemaker with a Finnish background. Both cases concern the distance selling of alcoholic beverages.

Finland suspects the winegrower of violating the Alcohol Act, and the EU Commission suspects that the Alcohol Act is contrary to EU law. The Commission is therefore investigating Finland, which is investigating the winegrower. The farce is ready!

The Commission’s investigation is not a matter of joke, and the Commission is not on the brink of traffic. I know this because the Commission is intervening following a complaint I made in the summer of 2018. The complaint and its annexes are one hundred pages long.

And the Commission’s actions do not come as a surprise to the Finnish authorities. The Commission banned Finland from imposing a ban on distance selling in 2017 under threat of infringement proceedings.HS 10/10/2018). Despite this, Valvira, with the support of the Ministry, has maintained the ban on distance selling, although even the Constitutional Committee stated that the law does not prohibit distance selling.

I tried to make sense of it at the end of Finland. In the spring of 2019, I submitted to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health a summary of the legal grounds for my complaint to the Commission, pointing out the interpretation of the Alcohol Act in breach of EU law and warning of possible legal action by the Commission. In the summer of 2020, I submitted the information to Valvira. Nothing happened.

I urge the Minister responsible to urgently investigate the actions of the authorities in the disturbance of distance selling of alcoholic beverages.

Rikhard Sjöberg

an individual who has complained to the Commission about a distance selling ban, Helsinki

Reader opinions are speeches written by HS readers, selected and delivered by HS editorial. You can leave a comment or read the principles of writing at www.hs.fi/kirjtamielipidekirjoitus/.

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