European Commission Warns Alcohol Bill Will Harm Trade In EU

By Dave Simpson
European Commission Warns Alcohol Bill Will Harm Trade In EU

A number of measures in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will negatively impact intra-EU trade and go beyond what is required to effectively tackle alcohol misuse, according to the European Commission, which has submitted comments to the Irish government in relation to the Bill. The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), said that the view of the European Commission highlights the urgent need for amendments to be made to this legislation.

The European Commission heavily criticised the proposed requirement that at least one third of the printed material on drinks products will be given over to health warnings. It said that it "is very concerned about the impact that this requirement will have on the export of alcoholic beverages to Ireland" and that it considers the size of the warnings to be disproportionate, as well as questioning whether the same objective – to tackle alcohol misuse - could be achieved if the health warning has a smaller, yet visible, size.

With regard to advertising, the European Commission said that the objective to reduce alcohol misuse could be achieved by less extensive prohibitions, having less effect on intra-EU trade. According to the Commission, the legislation means that, at present, a magazine distributed all over Europe that contains advertisements for alcoholic products would need to be reprinted before it was lawfully marketed in Ireland.

Director of Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland Patricia Callan commented, “The comments from the European Commission confirm the need for the Irish government to make a number of reasonable amendments to the Alcohol Bill, as it states that the same overall objective of reducing alcohol misuse could be achieved through less trade restrictive measures.

“The drinks industry, like the European Commission, supports the overall objectives of the Alcohol Bill to tackle harmful and underage drinking in Ireland. However, it’s clear some of the advertising and labelling provisions are not proportionate and will represent a barrier to trade in the EU.


“We are calling on the government to remove the requirement for cancer warnings on alcohol products, and a requirement that health warnings take up at least one-third of the label and other printed material.”

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