Europe's Health Commissioner has given his strongest backing yet to Scotland’s battle to impose minimum unit pricing on alcohol.

Commissioner Tonio Borg was speaking at the European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety when he was asked about last week’s decision at the Court of Session in Edinburgh which found against the drinks lobby.

He said of the Scottish ruling: “I’m very happy to learn the litigation regarding the minimum prices has failed, in the sense it has been won by the authorities.

“In principle we are in favour of this approach, anything which reduces alcohol consumption and which is in line of course with the European treaties in balances.”

The Scottish Government responded: “This is a welcome statement from the EU Commissioner for Health who clearly recognises the importance of price in tackling alcohol related harm.

“The Commission’s support in principle for minimum pricing is welcome. The Court of Session has already taken the view the Scottish Government’s legislation is in line with EU law.

“Despite the continued opposition of some parts of the alcohol industry we will continue to make the case for minimum pricing at every level as part of a package of measures to address the damage that cheap alcohol does to Scotland’s health and social wellbeing.”

Liberal Democrat MEP Rebecca Taylor said: “Commissioner Borg came to the environment committee and I asked a question based on the failure of the case against minimum unit pricing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

“He said he looked at  the evidence for fiscal measures on tobacco and alcohol and these were the ones that worked, compared to approaches such as education.

“He said in principle he would be in favour as long as it didn’t contravene EU legislation.”