Alcohol Bill unlikely before the Autumn
Two EU Member States – Italy and Portugal – have made formal objections to proposals in the government’s Public Health (Alcohol) Bill which now include Amendments to introduce a mandatory cancer warning label, a requirement that health warnings take up at least one-third of the printed space on the label of an alcohol container, as well as a demand for the introduction of a broadcast watershed of 9pm for alcohol products.
The measures led to Mayo Senator Michelle Mulherin claiming that the Bill’s labelling proposals could see beer countermounts in pubs everywhere being obliged to carry graphic warning labels about cancer.
“The rules appear excessive and not very practical,” she told the Irish Independent recently.
It’s understood too that seven other Member States – Greece, Denmark, France, Slovakia, Spain, the UK and Romania – have also submitted comments on the new Amendments to the Alcohol Bill and that the Commission itself has also submitted strongly-worded comments on the matter.
The Irish government will have to respond to EU Member State objections on the new Amendments and it will have to respond to the Commission too so the ‘standstill period’ has been extended to 20th July. As a result, the Bill is unlikely to be enacted before the Dail Summer recess.
In effect, the Bill would be most unlikely to go to Report and Final Stage much before this standstill and final period ends.
Additionally, after more than two years the Department of Health itself still has to respond to the original Member States’ objections to the Bill submitted in 2016.
Drinks Industry Ireland is also given to understand that this delay has not been appreciated in Brussels.