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Parliamentary questions
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22 July 2020
P-004339/2020
Priority question for written answer P-004339/2020
to the Commission
Rule 138
Petri Sarvamaa (PPE)
 Answer in writing 
 Subject: Distance selling of alcohol in Finland and from the EU to Finland – technical regulations, free movement of goods, Article 34 TFEU and the duty of loyalty referred to in Article 4(3) TEU.

The free movement of goods is a fundamental principle of the EU. At the present time in Finland there is in place a ban on the distance sales of alcohol, based on an administrative instruction. A lawyer for Valvira, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, officially endorsed the ban on 1 November 2019. This ban on distance selling constitutes a prohibited restriction on the free movement of goods, which is contrary to Article 34 TFEU.

Valvira’s predecessor made its decision to ban distance selling in 2007. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health adopted this legal interpretation. However, this technical regulation was not made known to the Commission in accordance with Directive (EU) 2015/1535 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical regulations and of rules on Information Society services.

Because no technical regulation was notified, the ban on distance selling is invalid. At the same time, however, the technical regulation has been implemented. With its reform of legislation on alcohol, Finland submitted a notification to the Commission with the TRIS number 2016/653/FIN (Overall Reform of the Alcohol Act). On 15 November 2017, the Commission delivered a detailed opinion expressing the view that the proposed distance sales ban under Section 30 was contrary to the EU Treaty. Finland submitted a final version of the legal act to the Commission with that section deleted. During its membership of the EU, Finland has never sent the Commission a final version of the legal act with a section describing any ban on distance selling.

No ban on the distance sales of alcohol has been issued in compliance with the procedure under Directive (EU) 2015/1535, and so, on the basis of EU case-law, the ban cannot be applied by a national court (C-194/94 CIA Security International SA).

What does the Commission intend to do about Finland, given that the country has not complied with its duty of loyalty under Article 4(3) TEU,

1. and which is implementing the unnotified technical regulation issued in 2007?

2. and which, having notified the regulation issued on 14 December 2016, implemented the technical regulation in criminal proceedings on 2 March 2017 during the standstill period, and in the end sent the Commission a final version of the text that did not include any mention of the technical regulation?

3. and which, having notified the technical regulation on 6 July 2018, and having withdrawn it as a result of the Commission’s detailed opinion, has continued to implement it since 2010?

Original language of question: FI
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