United Kingdom: European Parliament Resolution calls for new EU Alcohol Strategy
Written by News Editor
May 1, 2015
The FINANCIAL — The clear message from MEPs comes just a week after EU Health Ministers meeting in Riga called on the Commission to take action on the health impacts of alcohol.
Both MEPs and Ministers have criticized the Commission for failing to update the previous EU Alcohol Strategy which expired in 2012, according to EUbusiness.
Today’s European Parliament Resolution calls for a new Strategy, emphasizing the importance of better labeling of alcoholic drinks including ingredients and nutritional information with special focus on calories, and the need to raise awareness across the EU of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and drink driving.
A coalition of public health organizations welcomes the EP’s decision as a step towards reducing harm from alcohol in Europe. Today’s resolution – coupled with the strong view of EU Health Ministers – is a wake-up call to the European Commission to move ahead urgently with a new EU Alcohol Strategy and measures to urgently reduce the severity, scope and huge cost imposed by alcohol-related diseases across Europe, which claim 120,000 lives every year in the EU.
Alcohol-abuse is the leading risk factor for ill-health and premature death for the working age population (25-59 years) in Europe. The societal costs of alcohol use in Europe are in excess of € 155 billion per year across the EU.
Alcohol-related harm costs Europe at least 2-3% of GDP, mostly from lost productivity and massive healthcare costs. “Prevention of alcohol related harm is a smart investment for the economy, it cuts long-term healthcare expenditures and at the same time raises workforce productivity,” says Mariann Skar, Secretary General of Eurocare. “The Commission needs to respond to Ministers and the Parliament with a decisive new Alcohol Strategy. The lack of a Strategy is currently undermining Europe’s efforts for jobs and growth,” went on to say Mrs. Skar.
The resolution also includes a reference to Minimum Unit Price (MUP). Addressing alcohol-related harm is also crucial to reduce health inequalities, as the burden of disease and deaths related to alcohol disproportionately affect the most deprived. One of the most cost-effective ways for society to minimize the damage from alcohol consumption is a MUP, such as that proposed by the Scottish Government.
Alcohol abuse is a major public health issue in every EU country that requires coordinated action. “The Parliament vote, coupled with the call from EU Health Ministers should shame the Commission into action on alcohol. Years of EU inaction have allowed the alcohol industry to hide the harm – and even the calories – in their drinks. The Commission is currently fixated on “Better Regulation”, but what’s “Better” about the Commission failing in its duty to protect public health?,” concluded Nina Renshaw, EPHA Secretary-General.