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30/09/2013

Eurocare comments on the evaluation of the EU Alcohol Strategy

The European Commission presented in August 2013 a report assessing the added value of the “EU Strategy to Support Member States in reducing alcohol related harm”. Eurocare is here presenting comments on the evaluation.

The European Commission presented in August 2013 a report assessing the added value of the “EU Strategy to Support Member States in reducing alcohol related harm” (COM (2006)625). The evaluation discusses the two main instruments set up to support the implementation of the strategy: the Committee on National Alcohol Policy and Action (CNAPA) and the European Alcohol and Health Forum (EAHF).

Eurocare welcomes the evaluation and congratulates the European Commission. It is important to recognise the positive impact the Strategy has had. Since 2006 Member States have been encouraged to increase actions on reducing alcohol related harm. CNAPA has been an important meeting point for exchange of knowledge and good practice. Eurocare understands the evaluation as an encouragement for the European Commission to continue and update its EU Alcohol Strategy.

The report also points out crucial points for improvements. Eurocare would like to stress the fact that that less than 3% of the total budget of the Health Programme for 2008-2013 and less than 1% of the budget for health under Seventh Research Programme were allocated to alcohol. This is not sufficient when alcohol related harm is the world’s number one risk for ill-health and premature death amongst the 25-59 year old age group, a core of the working age population, and the third leading risk for burden of disease in Europe.

A crucial debate from the report is the voluntary actions and the self regulatory approach in the EAHF. One of the case study’s main conclusions is that the EAHF has contributed to the strengthening of self regulatory systems covering marketing and advertising of alcohol. In the conclusions this is presented as noteworthy. Eurocare would like to stress the fact that as a member of the EAHF, Eurocare has consistently stated that they do not support self regulation as there is currently no evidence to show that self regulation is effective in reducing alcohol related harm and indeed recent work carried out suggests the opposite.

Eurocare suggestions for the next steps:

  • A future EU alcohol strategy is needed, with targeted and clear objectives and outcomes
  • CNAPA: Should be strictly focusing on policy outcomes for alcohol related harm, and remain independent from the EAHF
  • Higher percentage of the research and health programmes should be dedicated to alcohol related activities and research
  • EAHF: Before recommending the EAHF as a model to Member States, the outcome of voluntary actions needs to be evaluated. From Eurocare’s perspective, we believe there have been limited outcomes of the actions from the economic operators.
  • The monitoring of voluntary actions focused almost entirely on process as opposed to outcomes, which needs to change in future assessment of the voluntary actions. Commitments with no impact on outcomes are in effect worthless.
  • Many of the NGOs represented in the EAHF are devoted entirely to alcohol harm reduction, and it is unhelpful to require the stakeholders to undergo this intensive monitoring of process. We suggest that NGOs and health professionals should not be required to deliver commitments on the same structure as economic operators.

Read the complete feedback from Eurocare