Finland wants to ban online alcohol purchases

Finland wants to regulate the purchase of alcoholic beverages online. Under the proposed legislation the Finns would no longer be able to purchase beverages that contain more than 2.8 percent alcohol from abroad on the Internet. The EU Commission has objected to the law, saying that it contravenes the principle of free circulation of goods. Will the country be able to win out over Brussels on this issue?

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Kauppalehti (FI) /

No interest in the free market economy

Finland still has a lot to learn when it comes to free competition, Kauppalehti comments:

“Finland has been an EU member for 24 years but it still hasn't got used to free competition. For example every attempt was made in Finland to slow down the privatisation of public transport companies until finally the Commission intervened. ... The alcohol law doesn't clearly define whether purchases of alcoholic beverages from abroad are allowed or not. Now the Commission has adopted a clear stance. ... It has proposed that Finland should consider setting up state-approved distribution centres for purchases from abroad. In practice this would undermine the position of the state monopoly company Alko since alcohol is eminently suitable for online trade.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Government buying time

Finland has no interest in reaching a quick agreement with the EU, Helsingin Sanomat believes:

“Alcohol is a sensitive issue in Finland. The harmful social and health impacts of excessive alcohol consumption are proven. The negative consequences are not equally distributed, however, and hardly affect those who buy their alcohol through European websites. So the health argument that is being used to justify the ban is unconvincing. Sooner or later Finland will have to respect the EU provisions regarding online purchases. But as is well known, processes in the EU are slow. A definitive decision in the European Court of Justice can take years. Until then, Finnish wine lovers and online wine dealers will have to get by without knowing what's allowed and what isn't.”