Commission set to dump EU alcohol strategy

This was covered on the EurActiv website in May and had me cursing and making muttered comparison to FIFA under my breath  🙁

EU dump alcohol strategy

Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU’s Health and Food Safety Commissioner, said that the executive has no intention of submitting a new strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm in Europe, suggesting that the issue will be tackled as part of a broad range of “risk factors” affecting chronic diseases.

The EU’s latest strategy to tackle alcohol abuse expired in 2013, after seven years, and was not replaced by a new one.

While it did not impose specific legislation, the strategy provided guidance to EU member states in preventing harmful and hazardous drinking, by tackling areas such as drunk driving, alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and underage drinking.

On Monday (18th May), Andriukaitis gave a speech at the plenary meeting of the European Alcohol and Health Forum (EAHF) in Brussels, where he presented the Commission’s work on reducing alcohol-related harm in Europe.

In the speech, he emphasised the need for a broad and holistic approach to reduce premature deaths related to alcohol misuse. But he made it clear that alcohol-related harm would not be treated in a seperate strategy as was previously done, but would instead be called a “risk factor” in a wider strategy to tackle chronic diseases.

“I would like to place action on the main causes of chronic diseases, including alcohol but also tobacco, nutrition and physical inactivity. It is less important for me what word we are using to define the paper setting out such a joint commitment. What matters is the results,” Andriukaitis said.

Mariann Skar, Secretary General of Eurocare, a network of non-governmental organisations that works on the prevention and reduction of alcohol abuse across Europe, said that it is both surprising and disappointing that the Commission was not responding to calls for a new strategy from the Parliament and the EU member states.

“We have now been waiting since 2012 to see any development on policies to tackle alcohol related harm in Europe. It has continuously been postponed, and now was the time to present new actions. However, it is a great disappointment that the Commissioner is not able to address the calls from the Parliament and the member states for a strengthened policy framework to tackle alcohol related harm,” she said.

No objection from the industry

But the alcohol industry, which has also long been pushing for a new strategy, remained calm over the prospect of the Commission not coming up with a new plan.

Malte Lohan, Global Corporate Affairs Director at AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, said businesses, NGOs and other stakeholders are already working together in the EAHF to help reduce alcohol abuse in Europe.

“Let’s not get hung up on words. Whether it is called an Alcohol Strategy or something else, the EU needs to renew the political foundation that underpins the EAHF so that we can build on and reinforce this important work,” Lohan stated.

Blah blah blah ….. oh and yes look at this ……

Now what was I muttering?  It would seem I was not the only person disgruntled by this news.  So were these:

NGOs resign from Alcohol and Health Forum as Commission ignores Member State and European Parliament Calls for Alcohol Strategy

Twenty public health organisations have resigned from the European Alcohol and Health Forum (EAHF), a stakeholder platform, to protest against the European Commission’s refusal to submit a new alcohol strategy.

Dear Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Dr. Andriukaitis, We write to you as a group of public health organisations to express our deep concerns that there are no plans to develop a comprehensive EU Alcohol Strategy and to tender our collective resignations from the EU Alcohol and Health Forum

  • Mariann Skar, Secretary General, European Alcohol Policy alliance (Eurocare)
  • Nina Renshaw, Secretary General, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
  • Katrin Fjeldsted, President, Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME)
  • Wendy Yared, Director, European Cancer Leagues (ECL)
  • Laurent Castera, Secretary-General, European Association of the Study of the Liver (EASL)
  • Jan Peloza, President, Alcohol Policy Youth Network (APYN)
  • Ennio Palmesino, Delegate for European Affairs, European Mutual Help Network for Alcohol related problem (EMNA)
  • Prof Thierry Ponchon, Chair of Public Affairs Committee, United European Gastroenterology (UEG)
  • Mervi Jokinen, President, European Midwives Association (EMA)
  • Peter Allebeck, President, Nordic Alcohol and Drug Policy Network (NordAN)
  • Kristina Mickevičiūtė, Vice-President on External Affairs, European Medical Students’ Association (EMSA)
  • Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of EAHF Science Group
  • Katherine Brown, Director, Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS), UK
  • Eric Carlin, Director, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP)
  • Professor Nick Sheron, Representative to the EU Alcohol and Health Forum,
  • Royal College of Physicians London, UK (RCP)
  • Claude Riviere, Association Nationale de Prévention en Alcoologie et Addictologie (ANPAA)
  • Adisa Dizdarević , Secretary General, No Excuse Slovenia
  • Tiziana Codenotti, Eurocare Italy
  • Lauri Beekmann, President, Estonian Temperance Union
  • Suzanne Costello, CEO, Alcohol Action Ireland
  • Gabriele Bartsch, German Centre for Addiction (DHS)

What was it you were saying Malte Lohan, Global Corporate Affairs Director at AB InBev? NGOs and other stakeholders are already working together in the EAHF to help reduce alcohol abuse in Europe – not anymore it would seem …….

2 thoughts on “Commission set to dump EU alcohol strategy

  1. Not Good 🙁 If 20 resignations doesn’t send a message I don’t know what will…xx

    1. I agree Lori – not good but I don’t think the drinks industry much cares either …..

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