Erasmus students want to see alcohol prevention in EU Youth Strategy

EU Spokesperson: "The current EU Youth strategy is coming to an end in December 2018, and the Commission plans to make proposals for the future before summer 2018." [Shutterstock]

This article is part of our special report Party smart: The battle against excessive drinking.

Programmes which focus on the prevention of excessive alcohol consumption should be considered in the next EU Youth Strategy, João Pinto, the president of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) has said.

ESN is implementing the project ‘Responsible Party’, an awareness-raising campaign against the excessive use of alcohol with the support of Pernod Ricard. For the French company, this is a commitment as a member of the European Commission’s Alcohol and Health Forum.

Since the start, the Responsible Party programme has reached more than 330,000 students across Europe. But now its organisers want to take it a step forward.

Pinto told that there was an ongoing discussion on how to involve the Responsible Party programme in the discussions for the new EU Youth Strategy.

“Basically when it comes to health, we want to make sure that policies on an EU level really highlight alcohol consumption,” he said.

The Portuguese Erasmus students’ leader underlined that the current Youth Strategy already highlights alcohol, but the framework lacks concrete measures on how to actually fight excessive alcohol consumption.

“Our programme has concrete measures and could be highlighted at least from a moral and legal point of view as such,” Pinto noted.

Despite the fact that EU member states have overall responsibility for youth policy, the bloc’s education ministers have agreed on an EU-wide Youth Strategy, which sets out a framework for cooperation covering the years 2010-2018.

The post-2018 Youth Strategy is currently under discussion through the so-called Structured Dialogue, a platform which brings together EU and national policymakers and youth representatives. Through an 18-month process covering three EU Council Presidencies, all stakeholders jointly set the objectives and the priorities, which are then adopted by the ministers.

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Better incorporating young people’s concerns

For the EU, which has already put a strategy in place, alcohol-related harm is a major health concern, accounting for over 7% of all ill-health and early deaths on the continent.

According to Commission data, young people are particularly at risk of the effects of drunkenness, including accidents and violence; alcohol-related deaths account for around 25% of all fatalities in young men aged 15-29.

Contacted by EURACTIV, a European Commission spokesperson said that it was too early at this stage to plan specific actions for the next Youth strategy, as relevant stakeholders are still in the listening process.

The EU official explained that it was important to better incorporate the concerns of young people in policy areas such as education, health, employment, environment, social affairs, etc.

“The current EU Youth Strategy is coming to an end in December 2018, and the Commission plans to make proposals for the future before summer 2018, so that youth ministers have time to discuss and adopt the new strategy by the end of 2018,” the Spokesperson said.

Party smart: The battle against excessive drinking

Excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking among young people in the EU has raised eyebrows in Brussels.

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