Sweden and the Free Movement of Alcoholic Goods in the EU Internal Market

Graham Butler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Sweden is an EU Member State that has had a history of strict regulation relating to the sale and purchase of alcoholic goods. Most notably, it has long had in place a state monopoly which has possessed the exclusive right to engage in the retail sale of certain alcoholic goods within the state. This article analyses the contemporary legal issues arising in regard to Sweden and national measures relating to private imports, retail sale, exclusive rights, and state monopolies. It emphasizes a number of developments. First, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has changed its course when assessing the lawfulness of national measures relating to state monopolies. Second, the CJEU has ruled that the private import of alcoholic goods into Sweden from other EU Member States is lawful, permissible, and compatible with EU law. Third, the article argues that changes to national law that allow for domestically produced alcoholic goods to be sold outside the state monopoly, farm sales (gårdsförsäljning), would be discriminatory, and incompatible with EU law. Furthermore, and as a result, Systembolaget could no longer be a monopoly. The articles concludes by offering views on the future of alcohol regulation in Sweden, in light of the applicable considerations deriving from EU law.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Public Law
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)75-114
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


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