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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