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Why Do We Need a New Alcohol Code?

Director of the HSE Institute of Legal Regulation explains the need for a separate regulation of alcohol production and trade.

On September 22, 2017 Anna Dupan, Ph.D., spoke at the plenary session "Alcohol Market Regulation: On the Way to Growth” during a Forum "Alcohol Market: From Bans to Development" held by the TASS information agency jointly with the Union of Russian Brewers.

Among other things, Anna stated:

"A paradoxical situation has developed concerning the alcohol market regulation in Russia. On the one hand, the State is highly interested in collecting excise duties while at the same time in changing the alcohol consumption pattern. On the other hand, it conducts a systematic unification of requirements to all types of alcoholic beverages with a strong tendency of tightening these requirements. As a result, the regulation can hardly be called balanced: economically and socially unjustified demands, prohibitions and restrictions are placed on production and trade of beer and wine, which have never been heard of in the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union or any other country.

At the same time, the obvious difference in production technologies and trade patterns of different types of alcohol still required the introduction of many changes, restrictions and special rules within the framework of general law. As a consequence, the Law No. 171-FZ has become so complicated that it is extremely confusing to comprehend even for a lawyer.

Complex and confusing regulation and the impossibility of a clear delineation of the norms applicable to different types of alcohol harm both the State and the industry. There is a true saying that the fish is better caught in muddy water. And with such severely unbalanced regulation, illegal or semi-legal alcohol production and trade is easier to thrive.

At the same time, it seems to me that the term ‘separate regulation’ is not entirely correct. If we develop five different laws on five types of products – spirits, alcohol-containing products, strong liquor, wine and beer – this will cause even greater confusion.

The industry, the State and the consumer need an Alcohol Code, that is, a law in which general and special parts will be singled out. Alcohol advertising norms are also advisable to be included in this single code and not stated in a separate law.

Such a change may seem technical: to break up the Law No. 171-FZ and the Law on Advertising in two parts: the general part with all the norms equally applicable to all and a special part with particular rules for each type of alcohol.

However, in practice, the new Code would remove ambiguities, duplications and excessive restrictions concerning the beer and wine industries, as well as make clearer the relationship of all alcohol producers with the government.

The Tax Code of the Russian Federation might serve as an example. The adoption of the general part of the Tax Code followed by the body of special clauses led to a significant streamlining of all tax relations: taxpayers clearly saw the general principles, the courts also saw them, and the limits of the tax authorities’ powers became clear.

In our opinion, the clearer and more transparent the regulation, the better it serves industry and a consumer, and, hence, the State".