Mickey Finns

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Chalk one up for the European Union: It's the reason why Finland is now about to cut liquor costs substantially. From the AP:

When Finland and neighboring Sweden, also concerned about high alcohol consumption, joined the EU in 1995, they were granted special permission to continue their tight policies until January 2004, including limiting the amount of alcohol travelers could bring home from trips abroad to other EU countries.

In Sweden, the government stuck to its policy of high taxes even after the EU's special exemption ended.

In Finland, officials chose to reduce taxes now because they fear what will happen after May 1 when Estonia joins the EU and Finns are expected to swarm to their southern neighbor to buy cheap drink in bulk for personal consumption. Under EU guidelines, people can import 300 bottles of beer and 12 bottles of hard liquor from another EU country without paying any tariffs.

Finland is one of the few developed countries with stricter booze laws than the U.S. There are only 315 state-run liquor stores in the entire country, which might somehow explain their great tradition of long-distance running.

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  1. Finland’s also a country with an appalling drink problem, as well captured by Jim Jarmusch’s film – A Night on Earth.

    I actually think people are allowed to import unlimited booze for personal consumption from one EU country to another. The limits in the AP report refer, I believe, to the level at which the burden of proof shifts from an assumption you are drinking the stuff yourself to an assumption that you are probably selling the stuff on. May be wrong on that though – like lots of EU law, it’s pretty murky and ill-understood.

  2. What with the long, cold winter nights
    and the woes of the century past,
    I guess a man could lean on the bottle.

    They will have to find another way to fight alcoholism
    and another way to make money off the weaknesses of its citizens.

    Anyone who has lived with an alcoholic understands
    the difficulty of their dilemma.

  3. > Under EU guidelines, people can import 300 bottles of beer and 12 bottles of hard liquor from another EU country without paying any tariffs.

  4. I can’t imagine that the rate of alcoholism will increase. The government controls didn’t make the nights any shorter, the weather any colder, or the people any less taciturn.

    Prohibition doesn’t work. Even when it’s tried in moderation.

  5. > I can’t imagine that the rate of alcoholism will increase.

  6. BRUSSELS, Belgium ? The European Union on Monday started imposing millions of dollars in sanctions on American goods but said it would stop the measure immediately if the U.S. Congress repeals its export tax break legislation.

  7. “Under EU guidelines, people can import 300 bottles of beer and 12 bottles of hard liquor from another EU country without paying any tariffs.”

    Huh? Nonsense, unless this is specifically talking about Finland. Under EU single market rules, if you can demonstrate that it’s for peronal consumption, there’s no limit to the amount of alcohol or tobacco you can bring in (and it’s shameful that you, the consumer, have to prove any such thing – it should be up to the Customs people to show it isn’t). Although the strong pound and fierce competition have made it less advantageous, the phenomenon of the ‘booze cruise’ (in which a bunch of Brits would rent a Ford Transit, hop on the ferry to Calais, buy ?2000-worth of hooch and head straight back) is by no means dead.

    I have heard it said by a Finn that he believed the only thing that was halting his country’s slide into alcoholic ruination was the sky-high price of Scandinavian booze. It could well be. I’ve never been to Finland, but I’ve seen many drunk people in Bergen (one of them was me, in a mirror), and this is a country where a litre of Gordon’s Gin in the duty-free cost me the same (Kr.100 = ?8) as a small beer in the airport bar. Norwegians on holiday somewhere where alcohol is dirt-cheap, like Holland, can be a sight to see.

  8. It’s up to individual Finns not to become alcoholics. Unless their government is issuing the stuff, the consumer has to buy it and drink it. If there is more choice and less government interference, things can happen according to individual desires.

    And it doesn’t matter if it’s rotgut liquor, cheap wine, thick beer, or the watered-down crap called Bud, the alcohol is still alcohol. It’s up to the user not to become an addict. And it’s up to governments not to take simpleminded approaches to tax drinkers while not noticing the effects the taxes have on consumer habits of the drinkers.

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