The European Parliament has backed away from recommending the introduction of a harmonised health warning on alcohol packaging throughout the EU even though its own health committee had urged such a step.

Some MEPs have accused the assembly of capitulating to the drinks lobby. The Parliament nevertheless noted that individual EU governments were permitted to introduce such warnings and that some, like France and Finland, had already done so.

To avoid a proliferation of different labels and advertising, which could affect internal trade in the EU, the MEPs called on the European Commission "to initiate a comparative study on impact and effectiveness of various information and communication means, including labelling and advertising…. with a view to reducing hazardous and harmful alcohol consumption, and to publish the results before 31 December 2009."

In its vote yesterday (5 September) the parliament also urged limits on the availability of alcohol to young people and stronger measures to identify alcopops.