11 European countries object to Ireland's plan for health warnings on alcohol products

Eleven European countries have raised objections at EU level about Ireland's plans for health warnings on alcohol products.

Under the Public Health Alcohol Bill, all alcoholic drinks will carry warnings as well as total alcohol and calorie content.

The legislation is currently at second stage in the Seanad where it was first introduced on Dec 17, 2015

The countries objecting, mainly on grounds centred on the labelling requirements, are the Netherlands, Slovakia, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania and Spain.

The European Commission has also expressed its concern about the proposal contained in the Programme for Government.

The Government believes the new law will help tackle harmful drinking, and said it remained determined to introduce the measures.

But the nine countries - which include some of Europe's biggest beer and wine producers - say it will affect free trade.

Ireland must issue a response to each country by the end of July.

Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes said he was concerned about the delay in passing the bill here, given Ireland's binge-drinking culture.

He said: "The legislation is a landmark piece of public health legislation. It contains many measures including minimum pricing, advertising rules and restrictions on promotions. The most controversial element is the requirement to have health labels on all alcoholic drinks.

"This means all alcoholic drinks sold in Ireland must contain a label showing the grams of alcohol, calorie count, health warnings as well as an address to a public health website. No such laws exist in any other EU country."

"If the legislation is introduced, manufactures who import alcohol into Ireland would be required to include health labels on their products. A number of EU member states have submitted objections to the legislation as well as the European Commission stating that the legislation would create barriers to free trade."

"I am extremely concerned that the European Commission or another EU Member State intervening would delay this important piece of legislation. Member states must be able to react to ongoing health concerns, which are particular to those member states, in a determined and coordinated way."

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