The Irish Government has insisted it will not back down on plans to put health warnings on alcohol products, despite 11 EU countries raising objections at EU level. Under the Public Health Alcohol Bill, all alcoholic drinks will carry warnings as well as total alcohol and calorie content.
The bill was approved last year and is currently at the second stage in the Seanad. The legislation also includes provisions to block the sale of cheap alcohol and to ban TV and radio adverts promoting the products before the 9pm watershed.
11 EU countries — Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and the Netherlands — have lodged objections to the Government’s imminent public health alcohol bill saying that they are worried about its possible effect on trade into and out of Ireland.
Doctors groups including the Irish Medical Organisation and the Irish Hospital Consultants Association have repeatedly called for increased legislative ways to highlight the dangers of alcohol amid growing concern about Ireland’s binge drinking culture.
Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said the minority government is determined to continue with the new 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. Health concerns and a proper response to Ireland’s binge drinking culture are best tackled at a local level, irrespective of internal market concerns… The commission issuing warning shots against Ireland on this issue denies the principle of subsidiarity and hampers public policy making in Ireland. It sets a dangerous precedent and must be opposed,” he said.