On the 29th of May, the Welsh Government published a Written Statement giving an update to the Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) of Alcohol in Wales. The Welsh Government are looking to introduce MUP, defined as a minimum 50p per unit x alcohol strength (%ABV) x volume (litres). This MUP policy, which would match that of Scotland, was anticipated to be introduced in the Summer of 2019. It now appears that MUP will be delayed, with an enforcement date not expected until early 2020.
In accordance with the Technical Standards and Regulations Directive (EU) 2015/1535, ‘Member States must inform the Commission of any draft technical regulation prior to its adoption. Starting from the date of notification of the draft, a three-month standstill period – during which the notifying Member State cannot adopt the technical regulation in question – enables the Commission and the other Member States to examine the notified text and to respond appropriately’.
The Written Statement states that the Welsh Government referred the draft regulations to the EU Commission as required, which was followed by the required three-month standstill period. The Welsh Government could not lay the draft regulations during this time as indicated. The reason for the delay is because on the 22nd of May, an EU Member State submitted a detailed opinion in respect of the draft regulations. The effect of this is that the standstill period has now been extended by an additional three months to the 21st of August.
In the Written Statement, Vaughan Gething AM, Minster for Health and Social Services, states that he ‘remains fully committed to introducing a minimum price for alcohol in Wales’. Preparations continue.