The European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD), the industry-sponsored social aspects organisation, has been forced to postpone plans to set out specific guidelines on sponsorship after the member companies failed to reach agreement on the proposed self-regulatory rules.

At a meeting of the CEOs of the EFRD members, held in Stockholm on 30 October, Pernod Ricard's chairman and CEO Patrick Ricard said he could not support the proposed principles because they did not go far enough.

In the past, Patrick Ricard has been critical of drinks companies sponsoring motor racing but Pernod Ricard's vice president for institutional affairs Jean Rodesch, who sits on the EFRD committee, told just-drinks that the objections revolve around the wording of the commitments, benchmarking and who would be monitoring compliance.

The committee members, who comprise corporate affairs and corporate social responsibility (CSR) executives of the member companies, have a meeting on 21 November, where the guidelines will be discussed again.

While some observers have suggested that as long as the CEOs cannot agree there will be little progress, Rodesch was confident that an agreement could be reached. "It is not a question of days but we will find a compromise between the companies," he told just-drinks, adding that he thought the EFRD may be in a position to publish its guidelines after their meeting in January.

Rodesch also said that the delay would give the members the opportunity to discuss whether any changes should be made to the proposals in the light of the European Commission's recently published Communication on Alcohol and Health, and remarks made by EC Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou at the Stockholm meeting.

The fact that the EFRD, whose members include Bacardi-Martini, Brown-Forman, Diageo, Pernod Ricard and V&S Group, is keen to publish guidelines on sponsorship, and that it has proved hard to find consensus, underlines the growing sensitivity of the subject.

In September, Pernod Ricard resigned from the US industry-sponsored alcohol awareness group The Century Council over drinks sponsorship of motor racing. Pernod Ricard said it felt it was inappropriate for companies which have chosen to sponsor motor racing to involve The Century Council in this area.