Member States of the European Union have come under political pressure from Brussels to outlaw the designing and marketing of alcoholic drinks, such as alcopops, to children and adolescents, as part of a move against under-age drinking.

The EU Council of Ministers has adopted a Recommendation, (a formal non-binding guideline), which calls on national governments to "ensure" that the drinks industry does not produce alcoholic beverages specifically "targeted, designed or promoted to appeal" to young people.

Specifically, the Recommendation suggests that Member States develop training programmes for pub and bar staff, along with drinks sales representatives, focusing on the difficulties caused by underage drinking and existing licensing restrictions.

It also calls on governments to make available pre-launch advice to drinks manufacturers, in advance of marketing or investing in a product.

And it says that effective complaints procedures should be set up, allowing governments to act where the Recommendation's guidelines are being flouted, maybe removing products from sale and banning "relevant inappropriate marketing".

EU health and consumer affairs commissioner David Byrne said: "I have no doubt that the Recommendation will be an excellent basis for all of us to help us to contribute to our common aim: to better protect our young people, especially children and adolescents, from alcohol-related harm."