Twelve leading beer, wine and spirits companies have pledged to put clear age-restriction labels on their drinks and set tighter controls on access to their online content in a bid to reduce underage drinking.
The European spirits industry launched a new web portal on Tuesday (12 March) to provide more consumer information on liquors and other distillates. However, it is still unclear whether such initiatives are in line with the European Commission's objectives.
The industry’s proposal on alcohol labelling has some legal issues and does not satisfy the need to fully inform EU consumers, a European Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV.com, raising fresh doubt as to how and when labelling will eventually be regulated.
A group of MEPs has called on the European Commission to turn down an industry proposal on alcohol labelling, claiming that alcoholic beverages should no longer enjoy a preferential regime compared to other foodstuffs.
EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis is not pleased with the “inconsistent” proposal recently submitted by the alcohol industry on labelling and insisted that European consumers should be presented the full information of the products they purchase.
The alcohol industry presented on 12 March their self-regulatory proposal on labelling, focusing on “flexibility” for wine, beer, spirits and cider. Alcohol makers will be free to decide whether to place information on the label, online or both.
Consumer needs and expectations should be the main drivers in defining alcohol labelling, a European Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV.com when asked about the effectiveness of online labelling, an option the alcohol industry wants to introduce.
Nutritional information should be clearly marked on the labels of alcohol products, and the off-label proposals being put forward by industry are not sufficient, writes Professor Markus Peck-Radosavljevic.
The decision to raise excise taxes on alcohol “penalises” the majority of consumers who drink responsibly, while those who have issues with alcohol will be unaffected as they will keep on drinking excessively, Alexandre Ricard told EURACTIV.com in an interview.