Minimum price rate for alcohol will make it less competitive
Thanks to Peter for a link to a story in the Portugal News that the Portuguese are opposing Welsh minimum price proposals for a unit of alcohol. The measure would charge 50p a unit, which, according to the BBC, would mean that a bottle of wine would cost at least £4.69.
The price minimum was expected to come into force this summer, but Portugal’s opposition has hindered the plan in Wales. The Welsh government had planned to impose this summer a minimum price of 50 pence (€0.56) per unit of alcohol to combat the harmful effects of alcohol consumption.
In a written statement published on 29 May, Wales’ minister of health and social services, Vaughan Gething, said he received a notification from a member state of the European Union (EU) with an opinion on the draft law. “The effect of this is that the standstill period was extended by another three months, which means that it was extended until 21 August,” he said, so it will not be possible to end the legislative process until the beginning of 2020.
On Monday, BBC said that this delay was due to an opinion from Portugal’s minister of economy, as part of a procedure allowing EU member states to oppose plans of other EU countries. The measure to be implemented provides for a bottle of wine to cost at least £4.69 (€5.24), which the Portuguese authorities feared would have “direct implications” for the competitiveness of national products and the free trade rules of the EU market.
“There are Portuguese operators who export wines to Wales whose consumer price is lower than the minimum price, therefore the application of a minimum unit price means that many of these wines will go up in price, which will make them less competitive in that market,” the minister said, according to the BBC. The document questioned whether the minimum unit plans area proportional policy response and called for more evidence to prove they have “the desired effect for public health in the long term.”
Portugal called for “concerted policies and strategies,” to promote moderate alcohol consumption and to clarify the effects of the excessive consumption of alcohol, “It is thus possible to safeguard the issue of public health and at the same time (comply) with the principle of the free movement of goods.”
Welsh policymakers defend the measure based on health reasons, claiming that the fee could save one life a week and avoid one thousand four hundred yearly hospital admissions. Vaughan Gething, Wales’ Health Minister is positive about the enforcement of the measure, believing it will come into force by 2020.