Ireland and Germany agree on beer purity laws for Guinness exports

The documents released from the State Archives highlight considerations around nitrogen in the Guinness delivery system

The government sought an agreement with German authorities considering options like a formal complaint or legal action through the European Commission (Photo by Orhun Rüzgar ÖZ via Pexels)

Released from the State Archives, confidential documents showed Irish officials coordinating with Guinness on potential actions against new German beer purity laws. The government aimed for an agreement with German authorities, exploring options such as a formal complaint or possible legal action through the European Commission. The concern was that these laws could adversely affect Guinness exports.

Documents from April 1989 disclosed Irish concerns about the potential impact of new German rules on Guinness exports. Specifically, there were fears that the purity regulations, citing nitrogen, a vital element in the Guinness delivery system, could pose challenges.

A memo said: “The current situation is that the Commission, having been given sight of the proposed German legislation to liberalise trade in beer, had raised certain objections.”

The memo emphasised that when introducing a new standard, the German authorities were required to inform other member states. If the new standard was perceived as a trade barrier, other EU member states had the right to raise objections, according to the Irish Independent.

Another memo highlighted that the Irish ambassador to Germany had discussed the issue with officials in Bonn, who indicated a positive decision from the Commission regarding new draft regulations on the matter. It mentioned that the Irish authorities preferred reaching an agreement rather than resorting to legal action on the matter.

Irish authorities were informed that the German authorities were willing to permit the use of nitrogen for beer dispensing when reviewing the new regulations.


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