New Cabinet will relax Alcohol Act in shopping areas

15 December 2021

The new Dutch Cabinet Rutte IV will relax the Alcohol Act. The proposal is to allow entrepreneurs in shopping areas to serve mildly alcoholic drinks to customers. Think of clothing and book shops, hairdressers, barbers, massage parlors, bicycle repairers, launderettes, heel bars, etc. Supermarkets can organize tastings in the shop or even set up wine or beer tasting bars.

In June 2018, the former liberal MP Erik Ziengs submitted a private members bill to relax the rules for selling and serving alcohol in the Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act. His so called Mixed Formulas Bill was meant to make it possible to combine on and off premise sales. In June 2020, he extended the proposal and submitted it again to the House of Representatives. Two months after the House started with the written consideration of the bill, the process came to a standstill.

Four months later, during the parliamentary debate of the new Alcohol bill of the Secretary of State Paul Blokhuis, in December 2020, there seemed to be little political support for Ziengs' bill. Only three parliamentary parties - PVV, Forum for Democracy and Think - supported the amendment by Jansen and Agema (35337, no. 29) that allows mixed formulas.

Nevertheless, in April 2021, after Ziengs' departure from the House of Representatives, Thierry Aartsen decided to take over the defence of the Mixed Formulas Bill. In the Netherlands it is not uncommon that a member of parliament in the House of Representatives adopts a private member's bill of a fellow member that has left Parliament.

Today the Coalition Agreement 2021-2025 for the new Dutch cabinet Rutte IV was presented. Unexpectedly one of the proposals is allowing entrepreneurs in shopping areas to combine retail and catering services (the Dutch call it "blurring"). It is not known whether the Cabinet will introduce its own bill or whether Aartsen will be asked to amend the proposals from Ziengs' private member's bill. In any case, Aartsen cannot leave the texts of Ziengs' bill unchanged. That bill is obsolete, as since the text was written the Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act has been replaced and is now called the Alcohol Act.


Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP
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The Netherlands
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