Earthquake in Europe: "Stop advertising wine, beer, and spirits". Belgium also imposes rules against alcohol

Apr 2 2024, 18:21
After Ireland, Belgium is also pointing the finger at alcohol. The new restrictions aim to discourage consumption among young people, but in fact, they reveal the vulnerabilities of Europe

A new crackdown on alcohol from the heart of Europe. After the Irish health warnings, this time it's Belgium proposing a regulation to limit its spread. Specifically, it is a ban on advertising alcoholic beverages (all those with an alcohol content greater than 0.5%) on all physical and digital communication channels intended for minors. The text reads (Royal Decree on Advertising for Alcoholic Beverages (2024/0032/BE): "Given the dangers of alcohol consumption (cardiovascular risk, addiction, cancer, lasting effects on the brain, etc.), especially among minors, and considering that advertising, currently ubiquitous, has a significant impact on consumers, especially young people; it is necessary to prohibit the advertising of alcoholic beverages in the media and press aimed at minors."

The uncertainties of the proposal

The protection of minors would therefore be the main objective of the proposal, but it remains to be seen how it will be pursued, considering that the text also refers to a health warning message in alcohol advertising, which will need to be identified by the Ministry of Health. It is not clear, where the word "advertising" is used, whether it also refers to labels or not. Not only that. In the draft decree, there is talk of a ban on "free distribution of alcoholic beverages for promotional purposes or at receptions, except for tastings."

The weaknesses of the European market

Beyond the uncertainties, it is striking that the proposal comes precisely from the "capital of Europe," as well as the main beer-producing country and organizer of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. A new step forward, after the Irish one, which seems to disregard the single market and the decisions that, in this regard, are expected at the community level. If, once again, the EU Commission does not intervene, it would confirm European fragmentation on the matter. And after Ireland and Belgium, other countries could also step forward, each with its own proposal.

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