EU Court to Give Opinion on Minimum Pricing Debate

By Steve Wynne-Jones
EU Court to Give Opinion on Minimum Pricing Debate

The European Court of Justice is set to chime in on the alcohol minimum pricing issue this week, which will have significance for its implementation in Ireland.

The Court will issue its thoughts on the proposals to introduce legislation in Scotland, where a bill was introduced in 2012 but has not yet been implemented.

Similarly in Ireland, the proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 has been held off pending the outcome of the European Court of Justice ruling. The new measures will see the price of a unit of alcohol (half a pint of beer or a glass of wine) set to between 90 cents and €1.10.

In Scotland, the bill has been challenged by the Scotch Whisky Association, which has claimed the bill infringes on EU competition rules and goes against regular market forces, the Irish Examiner reports.

The Scottish Courts have asked the EU to give an opinion on the matter. If it deems minimum pricing compatible with EU law, it will be a major set towards its eventual enactment in Ireland and other countries.

Irish people drink an average of 11.6 litres of pure alcohol annually. While this is significantly lower than five years ago, the aim of the Bill is to bring average consumption down to the OECD average of 9.1 litres within five years.