Cheaper beer – and more Swedes – on the horizon

Slashing beer and soft drink taxes would help Danish border towns flourish, politician argues

As part of the negotiations over the government’s new growth plan, Vækstplan Danmark, opposition parties have demanded a cut in taxes on beer and soft drinks.

Opposition party Konservative (K) is arguing for a halving of the current taxes in a move that they hope will help contain the rising number of Danes who travel to border shops in Germany in order to purchase beer and soda.

K's proposal was backed up by government coalition party Socialistisk Folkeparti’s (SF) financial spokesperson, Jonas Dahl.

“I don’t think that it takes many trips to southern Jutland to see that there are challenges involved with people buying huge amounts of beer and soft drinks at the border shops,” Dahl told Ritzau news service. “It is obvious that we need to see what we can do in order to create Danish jobs instead of German ones.”

Today, Danes pay 97 øre of taxes every time they buy a bottle of beer, and 79 øre every time they buy a half litre of soft drink.

The national association of grocers, De Samvirkende Købmænd, have been advocating a reduction in beer and soda taxes for a long time, pointing to the increased business that will come from their Swedish neighbours.

“That’s one of the positives gained by reducing the taxes on beer and it will lead to flourishing Danish towns that Swedes use for their border shopping,” John Wagner, the CEO of De Samvirkende Købmænd, told Ritzau. “If we can halve the current tax, then I will be very pleased.”

Wagner added that when Swedes come to buy beer, there is a good chance that they will buy other items and dine at Danish restaurants.

For their part, Swedish beer connoisseurs have a keen eye fixed on the beer-cost developments taking place in Denmark. According to industry organisation Breweries of Sweden, Swedes import 100 million litres of beer every year, a staggering 25 percent of their total beer consumption.

Cecilia Giertta, the managing director for Breweries of Sweden, thinks that cheaper Danish beers will have a significant effect on Swedish imports.

“We already have a massive border business happening now,” Giertta told Expressen, a Swedish daily newspaper.

And there is good reason for the Swedish invasion when it comes to purchasing beer in Danish and German border shops.

A litre of Tuborg beer costs 27 Danish kroner at the Swedish state-run alcohol monopoly, Systembolaget. But the same amount costs only 11 kroner in Denmark and just 8.5 kroner in German border shops.

Furthermore, there are no limits to how much alcohol Swedes are allowed to take into Sweden from another EU country, as long as the alcohol is judged to be for personal use.

In related news, the Environment Ministry has revealed that it is close to securing a deal with Germany that would mean that cans purchased in Germany would be approved for the Danish deposit refund (pant) system.

“Four ministers before me have tried with the pant in Germany. I want to wait a bit until the final agreement with the Germans is in place, but we are on the case,” Ida Auken (Socialistisk Folkeparti), the environment minister, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

According to Jyllands-Posten, an agreement could be place within a year.

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