‘Lost opportunity for Ireland’ if MUP not introduced, says C&C Gleeson
Despite an adverse opinion from the European Court of Justice, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar still intends to publish the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill in the coming weeks
3 September 2015
Minimum unit pricing (MUP) could risk infringing EU rules on free trade, the European Court of Justice has said today.
Yves Bot, advocate general of the court, said minimum pricing would be legal only if it could be demonstrated that no other mechanism, including increased taxes, could deliver the desired public health benefits.
Despite this adverse ruling, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has said he is encouraged by the fact that MUP could potentially be an option if it can be shown to be more effective than alternative measures.
The Minister has asked his officials to study this opinion and its implications, while awaiting the court’s final decision which is expected by the end of the year. He also said the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which contains provisions for MUP and other drink control measures, will be published in the coming weeks.
Drinks manufacturer C&C Gleeson is also keen to see the Irish government push ahead with its proposals for MUP. In response to the European Court’s opinion, Tom McCusker, managing director of C&C Gleeson said: “Minimum pricing is an important step in addressing the very specific but damaging problem of strong, cheap alcohol. It would be a lost opportunity for Ireland if it were not introduced.
“Although the majority of people enjoy alcohol responsibly, the availability of strong, cheap alcohol and its impact on a minority of people and their communities is concerning. We believe that there is no doubt and plenty of evidence to show that cheap alcohol is a driver of consumption for some people,” he added.
As the brewer of Bulmers Original Irish Cider and a range of other quality brands, the company has said it wholeheartedly supports the responsible consumption of alcohol, and subsequently has backed minimum pricing proposals since 2011 – and continues to do so.
In a press statement, C&C Gleeson added that today’s ruling appears to leave the door open for the Scottish government, on whose case the opinion was provided, to press its case in the Scottish courts.
“As always, but particularly in light of today, we encourage the Irish government to continue to show leadership on this issue. We pledge to support their aims and work with them on a wider alcohol strategy,” C&C Gleeson added.