Sweden and Finland Easing Alcohol Laws

Sweden and Finland are set to ease their strict alcohol sales laws while maintaining state monopolies, as reported by the BBC. In Sweden, the government plans to introduce "farm sales," allowing alcohol producers to sell beverages directly to visitors at their premises. This move, aimed at supporting small-scale entrepreneurs, could come into effect by 2025.

In Finland, the parliament has approved a new law permitting the sale of fermented drinks like beer, wine, and cider with an alcohol content of up to 8% in supermarkets, an increase from the current 5.5% limit. This change will enable shops to stock these stronger beverages as soon as next week, although distilled drinks remain excluded.

The alcohol sale in both countries is typically restricted to state-owned shops (Systembolaget, Alko), licensed bars, and restaurants, in line with their long-standing Nordic tradition designed to promote public health by limiting alcohol consumption. Sweden and Finland are the only EU countries with alcohol monopolies.

Finland's new law passed with a vote of 102 to 80, with all members of the Christian Democrats, part of the governing coalition, voting against it due to concerns about potential increases in alcohol consumption.

Both Sweden's and Finland's measures might require approval from the European Commission to ensure compliance with competition laws. The Commission has already raised concerns about Finland's decision to exclude distilled beverages from its new regulations.

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