Minimum pricing on alcohol is incompatible with European Union (EU) regulations and should not be introduced, according to the EU`s ruling body.
The European Commission (EC) said minimum pricing could restrict imports of foreign alcohol, putting international producers at a competitive disadvantage in Scotland.
While the EC recognises that Scotland has one of the fastest-growing rates of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the world, it said minimum pricing is a "disproportionate" response.
The Commission would prefer a wholesale increase in all alcohol prices through raising taxes, something outwith Holyrood`s control, or unspecified targeted measures in the specific Scottish regions where alcohol abuse is a problem rather than penalising the entire population.
The ruling specifically relates to the Scottish Government`s plan for a 50p minimum unit price on alcohol but could have a cross-border impact on the UK Government`s new minimum pricing plans. Home Secretary Theresa May announced plans to tackle "drunken mayhem" on the streets of England and Wales by introducing a minimum price of 45p per unit.
The EC directive published on Wednesday "invites" the authorities to "abstain from adopting the draft legislation at issue", specifically the draft Alcohol (Minimum Price per Unit) (Scotland) Order 2013.
"The case-law of the EU Court of Justice is unequivocal to the effect that national legislation imposing minimum pricing in respect of particular products falls within the ambit of the Article 34 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (prohibition on measures having the equivalent effect of impeding imports of products)," according to EC general secretary Catherine Day.
"All trading rules enacted by member states, which are capable of hindering directly or indirectly, actually or potentially, intra-EU trade are to be considered as measures having an effect equivalent to quantitative restrictions."
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "Minimum pricing will save lives and reduce the harm caused by alcohol misuse and we believe the policy, agreed by Parliament and backed by expert opinion, is the most effective pricing measure. The European Commission are in favour of addressing alcohol abuse and have asked us to consider their points, which we are doing. This is not unexpected and within the usual procedures for notification under the technical standards directive.
"We are confident that we can demonstrate that minimum price is justified on the basis of public health and social grounds, and will continue to press the case for minimum pricing in the strongest possible terms. We will respond to the EC by the deadline of December 27."