The European Health Commissioner has said it has no objection to the Irish Government's controversial new alcohol bill, but that court action elsewhere could have a bearing on whether or not the new law is legal under European law.

The Public Health Bill, which would introduce minimum pricing for alcohol, as well as a range of restrictions on advertising and labelling, is currently going through the houses of the Oireachtas.

However, ten EU member states have objected to the bill on the grounds that it interferes with the European single market.

EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis was attending a seminar on alcohol policy in Brussels at which the new bill was defended by Minister of State for Health Promotion Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy.

The Government hopes to reduce the amount of per capita consumption of alcohol from 10 litres per annum to 9 litres because of what it calls the devastating impact of alcohol abuse on private health and society as a whole.

The most controversial aspect of the new bill is the ability for the authorities to set a minimum price for certain kinds of alcohol.

The idea is to make hard spirits much more expensive and thereby reduce the amount of consumption, especially among those who drink at home, or alone.

There will also be restrictions on advertising and marketing, and more health information on labels.

But the bill has drawn objections from some EU member states, mostly the big wine and beer producers.

They argue the new law will severely limit access to their products, and is illegal under the EU's Single Market.

The Commission has not objected per se. It says that court action in Scotland could have a bearing on whether or not Ireland's new bill is legal.

The European Court of Justice has already ruled that a Scottish move to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing as it is called could be legal on public health grounds, so long as the Scottish Supreme Court can prove there is no other taxation alternative.

The Scottish court is expected to rule on that in a couple of weeks. Depending on the outcome, there could be a swift challenge through the courts in Dublin against Ireland's new bill, again on European Single Market grounds.