Brussels, 16 May 2023 – The European Committee of Wine Companies (Comité Vins – CEEV) filed yesterday a formal complaint to request the European Commission to open an infringement procedure against Ireland for breaching EU law and EU Single Market with its labelling rules on alcoholic beverages which include, among others, the use of health warnings.
“The provisions included in the Irish labelling regulations are incompatible with current EU law and constitute an unjustified and disproportionate barrier to trade under EU legislation. They will fragment the EU Single Market by affecting its proper functioning, de facto hindering access of products from other Member States to Ireland and thus generating clear discrimination to imported products.” said Mauricio González-Gordon, President of CEEV. “While we fully support the fight against alcohol abuse, we strongly believe this objective could be achieved by more effective and less trade-restrictive measures that should be, in addition, compatible with current EU law.” he added.
In its complaint, CEEV underlines the clear incompatibility of Irish labelling rules with wine and aromatized wine products’ new labelling legislation on matters concerning the indication of alcohol content and energy value. It also explains how the Irish rules are a disproportionate and unjustified barrier to trade contrary to Articles 34 and 36 of the Treaty of Functioning of the EU, thereby jeopardizing the EU Single market. It underlines how Ireland has never properly justified the measure proposed.
CEEV also underlines how the Irish rules risk undermining coherent EU-wide action by adopting unilateral rules on matters, such as health warnings, that the European Commission has already announced its intention to legislate on.
Last but not least, CEEV explains how the Irish labelling provisions fail to distinguish between alcohol abuse and moderate wine consumption patterns, therefore failing to accurately inform consumers.
The incompatibility of Irish labelling rules with EU law and the fragmentation of the EU Single Market was highlighted by no less than 13 EU Member States during the EU notification procedure and, last week, by at least 8 non-EU countries during the WTO procedure. Even the Irish authorities acknowledged it publicly, with humour, during an event organized by the Swedish Presidency on 1st February. Not to mention that the European Commission itself warned Ireland against this incompatibility some years ago during the TRIS notification process.
“With Ireland’s lack of reaction to the many concerns raised by national governments and with the inexplicable failure of the European Commission to act and defend the EU law and EU Single market, we were left with no other choice but to present an official EU complaint to request an infringement procedure to be opened against Ireland” said Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, Secretary General of CEEV.
“We remain convinced that it is the responsibility of the European Commission to work towards defining a harmonized and scientifically appropriate legal framework that protects the EU Single market and adequately informs consumers. As CEEV, we stand ready to proactively collaborate on this matter.” he added.
NOTE TO EDITORS
- Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV – www.ceev.eu) represents the wine companies in the industry and trade in the European Union: still wines, aromatised wines, sparkling wines, liqueur wines and other vine products. It brings together 25 national organisations and its members produce and market the vast majority of quality European wines, with and without a geographical indication, and account for over 90% of European wine exports.
- Health warning as proposed by the Irish Draft Regulations
- Media contact: Dr Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, CEEV Secretary General, email@example.com, Mobile: +32 (0)476 88 36 75