As with its decision to implement a ban on cigarette smoking in public places, Ireland is ahead of the EU curve on the issue of requiring warning labels to be placed on alcohol products. With 72% of Irish consumers welcoming the initiative and the EU Commission recently giving it a green light, it seems likely that Ireland will press ahead with enforcing the measure.
Section 12 of Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 includes a provision requiring health warning labels to be placed on alcohol products. In June 2022, Ireland took first steps towards implementation of that provision by notifying the draft Public Health (Alcohol) (Labelling) Regulations 2022 (the Draft Regulations) to the European Commission.
This so-called Technical Regulation Information System (TRIS) notification was required under the Single Market Transparency Directive 2015/1535 (SMTD), which seeks to ensure transparency of technical regulations adopted at a national level and reduce the risk of fragmentation of the single market by creating different marketing standards and requirements at national level. This is particularly relevant for food labelling, which is harmonized at the EU level, by, amongst others, the Food Information to Consumers Regulation (EU) 1169/2011. This Regulation requires certain national proposals for technical regulations, such as the Irish labelling proposal, to obtain a TRIS notification to allow Member States to comment on them and if necessary, raise concerns. There is a three month standstill period following notification during which the notifying country cannot adopt the technical regulation, which is extended by another three months if the Commission or a Member State submits a detailed opinion. If a detailed opinion is received, the notifying country must inform the Commission of the measures it intends to take to address the issues raised in the opinion.