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Internal Market

PR(07)44: The EFTA Surveillance Authority requests Norway to lift its ban on the private import of alcoholic beverages


Today the EFTA Surveillance Authority delivered a reasoned opinion to Norway in which it stated that the Norwegian restrictions on the private imports of alcoholic beverages are in violation of the principle of the free movement of goods established in Artice 11 of the EEA Agreement.

Since the proceedings against Norway were initiated by the EFTA Surveillance Authority in 2004, the Norwegian Government has maintained that the restrictions form a part of the monopoly on the retail sale of alcoholic beverages.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority agrees that Norway is allowed to maintain its monopoly on retail sales on Norwegian soil. However, the issue of imports of alcoholic beverages for personal use should be treated separately under the free movement provisions. Indeed, in a preliminary ruling of 5 June 2007, the Court of Justice of the European Communities found that a similar system of import restrictions in place in Sweden was separable from the issue of the retail monopoly (Case C-170/04, Rosengren). As a consequence, Sweden was found to be in breach of the rules on the free movement of goods under the EC Treaty. The preliminary ruling in Rosengren corresponds in full with the view advanced by the EFTA Surveillance Authority.

The delivery of a reasoned opinion is the final step in the infringement proceedings carried out by the EFTA Surveillance Authority. Norway has three months to bring its legislation into compliance with the reasoned opinion. If it fails to do so, the EFTA Surveillance Authority may bring the case before the EFTA Court.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Hallgrímur Ásgeirsson
Director, Internal Market Affairs Directorate
Tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 60; or

Mr. Joakim Zander
Officer, Internal Market Affairs Directorate
Tel: (+32)(0)2 286 18 76; or

Mr. Niels Fenger
Director, Legal & Executive Affairs Directorate
Tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 30

8 November 2007

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