Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services
In February this year, following a 3 month public consultation on the Welsh Government’s preferred level of the Minimum Unit Price (MUP) for alcohol, I issued a Written Statement regarding our intention to lay draft regulations before the National Assembly for Wales, with the view to introducing a 50p MUP for alcohol later in 2019.
In accordance with the Technical Standards and Regulations Directive 2015/1535/EU, the Welsh Government subsequently referred the draft regulations to the EU Commission, which was followed by a 3 month standstill period, during which the Welsh Government could not lay the draft regulations. On 22 May, we received notification that an EU Member State has submitted a detailed opinion in respect of the draft regulations. The effect of this is that the standstill period has been extended by an additional 3 months, which means that the standstill period has been extended to 21 August.
We will give full consideration to the detailed opinion received from the EU Member State and will report to the EU Commission with a response in due course. Receiving the detailed opinion means that the earliest that we will now be able to lay the draft regulations before the National Assembly for Wales for its consideration will be Autumn this year. Should these regulations be passed by the National Assembly for Wales, I would anticipate that the minimum pricing regime would come into force in early 2020.
I remain fully committed to introducing a minimum price for alcohol in Wales. Alcohol is a major cause of death and illness in Wales and once implemented – will make an important contribution to reducing the devastation caused by alcohol related harm in Wales. Taking into account a range of factors, we remain convinced that a 50p minimum unit price is a proportionate response to tackling the health risks of excessive alcohol consumption. We consider that a 50p minimum unit price will strike a reasonable balance between the anticipated public health and social benefits and intervention in the market.
In the meantime, our preparations for implementation will continue. Over the past few months, we have been working with retailers, the alcohol industry, public health and substance misuse stakeholders to develop guidance and additional supporting materials on minimum pricing for alcohol. This work will continue – alongside the development of our plans for evaluation and specific communications campaigns with retailers and the general public to continue promoting the public health aims of the legislation.