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With less than two weeks until Christmas and with some of us already counting down to the best day of the year (that’ll be the 24th of December), I thought it would be best to begin this EU blog with a post that could be seen (with some good will) as timely and seasonal (I’ll do my best).

In Denmark, food and drinks are extremely expensive to buy, not just in December but throughout the year. According to data from Eurostat, Denmark is the most expensive EU country when it comes to food prices, closely followed by the other Scandinavian EU country, Sweden.

What do you do then when it’s the holiday season and 20+ relatives tell you that they’ll make their arrival on the 23rd of December and won’t leave until the 27th? Well, the solution for many Danes who don’t want to go bankrupt is to drive down to the German border to buy the food and drinks, especially chocolate, sweets, bear and soda cans, in border shops on German territory.

Sodas are particularly expensive in Denmark not least because there is a big deposit, like in other European countries, on cans and plastic bottles.

The deposit is so great, especially for plastic bottles of more than 1.5 liters, that when I was a poor university student, I would steal my parents’ empty bottles on my rare visits to their home. After returning the bottles in the supermarkets, I could have a nice living for weeks.

In Germany, like in Denmark, they have deposits on beer cans and sodas. This means that all German stores must charge a deposit regardless of whether the customer is German or not.

But the German border shops close to the Danish border fail to charge a deposit on beer and soda cans for the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian customers – the same exception does not apply to German shops at the other borders in the rest of Germany according to a source.

In Germany this sale to private customers is seen as “export”, but seen from an EU legislative perspective, it is mildly surprising that sales to private consumers can be considered as export.

How this border-beer-can-EU-loophole arrangement was set up still remains for now a (Christmas) mystery…

 

Cheers!

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