We've been saying ever since the idea first came up that minimum pricing on alcohol was a thoroughly silly idea and one that was almost certainly illegal to boot. Yet there were people who just insisted that it just must be introduced. That second, that it's illegal, has been confirmed:
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the Scottish Government’s plan for a minimum alcohol price would breach EU law if less restrictive tax measures could be introduced. Judges at the Luxembourg court concluded that the policy would restrict the market, which could be avoided by the introduction of an alternative tax measure designed to increase the price of alcohol.
We do get the basic contention of the puritan prodnoses behind this. If something is more expensive then people will presumably consume less of it. Yes, demand curves do slope downwards. But why on Earth you'd do this via minimum prices, rather than simply a generally higher excise duty on alcohol is something that's never been explained in any satisfactory manner. Because all you do with a mandated minimum price is fatten the profit margins of the people who make the cheap grot. And since when has that ever been a valid goal of public policy?
We're not, around here, and this writer especially, great fans of the European Union. But woe for national politics is that's the last defence against this sort of foolishness.