European Union’s Alcohol boarders

With as much “union” that has come about in the last 50 years within Europe, it is surprising how drastically different alcohol is distributed, taxed, and regulated from one country to another. For example, in Denmark or France, you can buy tequila in the grocery store, but in Norway, you need to go to a special store if a beer if it is over 4.75%ABV.

When I was in Sweden in November, I was discussing these laws with a customer who said that the taxes are so drastically different from one country to another in Scandinavia that people make special trips across the boarder just to get booze. The Norwegians go to Sweden. The Swedish go to Denmark. The Danish go to Germany. The Germans go to former Soviet countries. (reminds me of my college days in a dry county. We had to cross the county boarder to get the good stuff… The Cookevillians go to Gainsboro). Apparently every step down that chain means SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper booze because as you go farther north and west, the governments get more and more interested in controlling alcohol consumption through taxes (not to mention, as you go farther south and east, government turnover is more common, and putting a 2000% tax on Vodka would be political suicide, if not literal suicide).

Internet shopping has certainly shaken this up a bit. Sweden just lost an EU court case trying to block an internet company from selling wine and beer directly to the drinker via other European countries, avoiding the local “moral” taxes. That’s good, because the beer I had in Sweden was crap. And they aren’t really known for their merlot either. Maybe if the taxes weren’t so ridiculously high to begin with, people wouldn’t try to go around them.

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