The members of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) on Thursday (29 January) voted on a draft motion for a resolution on the EU’s alcohol strategy.
The EU has tried to reduce alcohol-related harm in Europe by publishing a strategy in 2006 to help national governments, and other stakeholders, to coordinate their action.
However, the alcohol strategy was not updated by the European Commission in 2013, as originally intended.
The Juncker Commission, which took office on 1 November 2014, has so far not indicated that a new strategy is being considered. But leading MEPs from the ENVI Committee, such as the Socialists & Democrats’s (S&D) Glenis Willmott, say that the Commission has not given a satisfactory reason for why the review of the alcohol strategy wasn’t published last year as promised.
Industry association Brewers of Europe said in a statement it was backing the current alcohol strategy to support member states in reducing alcohol-related harm.
The external evaluation of the current EU strategy was extremely positive, concluding that the priorities and approach remained relevant, whilst also proposing a strengthening of the existing mechanisms. The Brewers of Europe supports this call for a reinvigoration of the current strategy rather than a totally new approach.
“The current EU Strategy focuses on alcohol misuse, addressing the problems caused by harmful drinking patterns and targeting the vulnerable minority who either drink to excess or should not drink at all. Moderate beer consumption by healthy adults can be fully compatible with a balanced lifestyle, highlighting the importance of promoting responsible drinking behaviours,” they said in a statement.
“The Brewers of Europe has supported this Strategy throughout, not just through words but also through actions, having filed one third of the 300 commitments to action made in the EU Alcohol and Health Forum,” they continued.
The beer sector also reaffirmed its commitment in 2012 with the adoption of a European Beer Pledge that focuses on consumer information, marketing self-regulation and campaigns against alcohol misuse.
Though a new report suggests that alcohol consumption has decreased significantly over the past decades, an average adult (aged 15+ years) in the EU consumes 12.5 litres of pure alcohol each year, or nearly three drinks a day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated in a 2012-report. This is more than double the world average.