Portugal stymies Welsh parliament’s plan to tackle excessive drinking

Portugal has stymied a plan by the Welsh government to tackle excessive drinking in Wales.

Say reports, the move comes from (Portugal’s) concern that its wines “would be less competitive” if the Welsh plan was approved.

The idea is based on ‘saving a life every week, and preventing 1400 hospital admission per year’, explains the BBC. It’s not a measure adopted with financial benefits in mind.

Be that as it may, nothing can move forwards for the next six weeks now that Portugal has objected.

Says the BBC: “The new system was expected to be in place this summer but has been delayed because of Portugal’s intervention”.

The controversy is rooted in the implications of introducing a 50p minimum charge for every unit of alcohol. This way, the cheapest bottle of wine would cost Welsh punters 4.69 euros.

A “detailed opinion” submitted by Portugal argues that the scheme “could have direct implications on the free trade rules of the EU market”.

Said the economy ministry: “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 suffer an increase in price, which will make them less competitive in that market.”

Portugal’s detailed opinion means that the Welsh plan has seen the so-called ‘standstill period’ extended until August 21.

But the chances of it being thrown out altogether are slim.

In 2013, a number of countries – including Portugal – objected to a similar minimum price plan being adopted in Scotland, and all the objections were eventually (five years later) overruled by the Supreme Court.

Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething has said that he anticipates his country’s new regulations will come into force by “early 2020”.

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