SpiritsEUROPE, which represents the EU spirits sector has announced that it has submitted a formal complaint asking the European Commission to open an infringement procedure against Ireland for breaching EU law with its planned new regulation on labelling rules for alcoholic beverages.
The representative body said that the proposed measures risk fragmenting the internal market by deviating from EU harmonised labelling rules, and that they also represent a disproportionate trade barrier not justifiable under EU law based on the public evidence put forward.
SpiritsEUROPE highlighted that it believes that the draft regulation - which would require additional Ireland-specific labelling information, including text-based health warnings on alcoholic beverages - represents a disproportionate trade barrier hampering the free movement of goods.
In practice, the new rules would prevent non-Irish producers and distributors from selling alcoholic beverages legally sold in all other EU Member States in Ireland.
'Restricted Freedom'piritsEUROPE, commented, "For good reasons, the right to restrict the freedom of movement of goods in the Single Market is subject to strict rules: trade barriers must be justified and proportionate, meaning that no other options, less restrictive of the trade between Member States are available to Ireland. We believe Ireland has failed to demonstrate the admissibility of their measures on both these criteria.Ulrich Adam, director general of S
“In addition, the Commission is bound to present new, harmonised labelling rules for alcoholic beverages soon. In such a situation, common practice has it that plans for deviating national rules should be paused."
Barrier To Trade
In its complaint, SpiritsEUROPE outlined why the draft measures cannot be justified under Article 36 of the Treaty and constitute a 'disproportionate barrier to trade' in the Single Market. “We fully acknowledge and respect Ireland’s right to take action to ensure a high level of protection of the public health of its citizens. Numerous meaningful, proportionate, and evidence-based public health measures to help reduce alcohol-related harm are available," he added.
"However, it would appear that Ireland conducted an insufficient analysis of the proportionality of their particular policy choices on labelling, as other suitable, yet less restrictive options to trade clearly exist.”