As drinks companies sign up to new guidelines for Internet marketing, the spirits industry told EURACTIV in an interview that self-regulation is quicker than legislation and insists the industry has no interest in marketing its products to young people.
Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said she was impressed by industry's voluntary commitments in the EU Alcohol and Health Forum but promised to follow their implementation in 2009 as 'committing to action is one thing and delivering another'.
European wine producers have deplored the growing tendency to reduce wine to a simple alcoholic drink, consumed in vast quantities with no appreciation of the product. They are launching a programme to help promote the cultural dimension of wine and contribute to the EU goal of reducing alcohol abuse.
Daily exercise, moderate alcohol consumption and sufficient fruit and vegetable intake are known to be good for health, but researchers have now discovered that their combined effect can actually add up to 14 years to life expectancy compared to those who fail to adopt these behaviours.
The alcohol industry, doctors, publishers and NGOs alike have pledged a series of actions to promote responsible drinking, curb under-age alcohol consumption and promote behavioural change among adolescents.
EU agriculture ministers have reached agreement on the new Spirit Drinks regulation, answering the thorny question of what can be labelled 'vodka' in a vote which has left traditional producers such as Poland "frustrated" with large producers in the UK.
The European Parliament rejected calls from its own Health Committee to introduce standardised EU-wide health warnings on alcoholic drinks, as is currently the case on tobacco products, in what some MEPs denounced as 'strong lobbying' from alcohol producers.
The Commission plans to abolish ineffective subsidies for surplus wine production in a bid to make EU producers more competitive. As a sweetener, Brussels proposes to put its current €1.3 billion budget to help wine producers change activity and help promote EU wine across the world.
Business and NGOs in the newly set up European Alcohol and Health Forum have committed to concrete actions to protect young people against the harmful use of alcohol and irresponsible advertising and sales.
The EU asked the World Trade Organization to rule on the legality of India's high duties on imports of wine and spirits on 26 March 2007, arguing that they harm Europe's wine and Scotch-whisky producers.
MEPs believe that a compromise with the Council is at hand after a vote by the European Parliament's lead committee on spirit labelling, which allows for vodka to be made from non-traditional ingredients.