WHISKY producers are to push for the deadlock over minimum pricing to be settled immediately by Europe amid warnings that a decision on the controversial policy is in limbo.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) will go to the Court of Session next week to urge it to pass the dispute over the proposals to the European Court of Justice for a decision.
The association opposes the plans, which would set a 50p per unit floor price on all drink sold in Scotland, saying it will encourage countries around the world to retaliate with tariffs on imports of Scotch.
However, ministers claim the measure will reduce Scotland’s drink problem.
The two sides are now locked in a legal dispute at the Court of Session, with reports yesterday suggesting that it could take until 2017 for the matter to reach a resolution.
A spokeswoman for the SWA said last night that it expected the case to be referred up to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, no matter what the Scottish courts conclude.
She said that resolution of the case could be speeded up if the Scottish Government agreed to ask the Court of Session to send it there now.
The spokeswoman said: “We can sort this out by asking the court to refer it to Europe.
“The government is refusing to do this and that is causing the delay in the matter being resolved.”
The next hearing will take place on 28 November.
However, ministers believe that their stance was vindicated after the Court of Session backed their case earlier this year, leading to the current appeal.
A Scottish Government spokesman said last night it would pursue the appeal in the Scottish courts.
He said: “The Scottish Government remains absolutely committed to implementing alcohol minimum pricing.
“We are confident that the legal process will find in favour of minimum pricing and we will move to implement the policy as quickly as possible following a decision.”