Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has said he is committed to the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing and other measures in the Public Health Alcohol Bill which completed second stage in the Seanad last week.

It comes after the European Court of Justice ruled today that a plan by the Scottish government for a minimum unit alcohol price would breach EU law if other tax options exist.

The ruling is expected to affect proposals by the Government to introduce minimum pricing in Ireland.

The court concluded that the policy would restrict the market and it recommended alternative tax measures to increase the price of alcohol.

A final decision will be made by a court in Edinburgh.

"The court ... considers that the effect of the Scottish legislation is significantly to restrict the market," the Luxembourg-based court said in a statement.

Cheaper drinks imported from other member states lose their competitive edge in the Scottish market as a result, it said.

"That is sufficient reason to conclude that the measure constitutes an obstacle to the free movement of goods," it said, citing a core EU principle.

In contrast, increasing taxes "is liable to be less restrictive than a measure imposing a minimum price per unit since, unlike where there is a minimum price, traders retain the freedom to determine their selling prices."

On that basis, taxation rather than a minimum price system would better serve the government's efforts to cut alcohol consumption.

Reacting to the judgment, Minister Varadkar said the Government believes a strong and convincing case can be made in favour of minimum pricing.

He said: "Minimum Unit Pricing is one of the measures in the forthcoming Public Health Alcohol Bill … I have asked my officials to study further the implications of the judgment in conjunction with the office of the Attorney General."

Spokesperson for the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, Ciaran Fitzgerald said that minimum unit pricing is not the route to take, adding there are other initiatives that can be taken.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime he said that 80% of people who consume alcohol in Ireland, consume responsibly. 

Mr Fitzgerald said that the industry would like better dialogue to look at focused measures to 
help deal with alcohol misuse. 

He said the drinks industry would continue to oppose minimum unit pricing.