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Finland's alcohol prices highest in EU

A Europe-wide price comparison index found prices in Finland to be 91 percent higher than the EU average last year.

ihmiset kilistelevät juomiaan terassilla
There are large differences in the prices of alcoholic beverages between European countries, often due to different taxation practices. Image: Roni rekomaa / Lehtikuva

The price of alcoholic beverages in Finland was the highest in the EU last year, according to a price comparison index conducted by the EU’s statistical office Eurostat.

The study found that alcohol cost 91 percent more in Finland than the EU average. Finland was also the most expensive country in the EU in 2018, when prices were found to be 82 per cent above the EU average.

The next highest prices in 2019 among EU member states were in Ireland and Sweden, while the cheapest prices were to be found in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

The survey looked at prices in the 27 EU member states, the United Kingdom, 3 EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), 5 EU candidate countries (Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey) and one potential candidate country (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

Tax drives price difference

Outside of EU-only countries, the most expensive alcohol in Europe last year was found in Iceland and Norway. In these two countries, alcoholic beverages cost just over 160 percent more than the EU average in 2019.

There are a number of reasons behind the large differences in the prices of alcohol between European countries, with Eurostat identifying different tax practices between countries as the main driving factor.

Finland's alcohol tax was increased at the beginning of 2019, and while a report by Statistics Finland found that there was no big leap in consumer prices, the average price of alcohol did rise by more than one per cent last year.

Eurostat's comparison index also found that food was 18 per cent more expensive in Finland than the EU average, and non-alcoholic beverages were 26 per cent more expensive. Tobacco cost 34 per cent more in Finland than in the EU on average.

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