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17/01/2014

Eurocare response to the European Commission proposed structure for the EU Alcohol Action Plan

Earlier this week Eurocare has responded to the European Commission proposed structure for the EU Alcohol Action Plan.

Eurocare shared the concerns of Member States that the lack of a new EU Alcohol Strategy poses a real threat to maintain progress made to reduce alcohol related harm in Europe.

An EU Alcohol Strategy would lay out a longer-term context to support the continuation of efforts at the EU level to address alcohol related harm. Eurocare emphasised that the proposed Alcohol Action Plan should be seen as a preparatory step to the renewal of the EU Alcohol Strategy, which should be in place within two years.

Eurocare highlighted that a EU Alcohol Action Plan should reflect the language used in the EU strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol related harm. In particular we were surprised to see the term “heavy drinking” in the Action Plan, whereas the EU Alcohol Strategy uses the terms “harmful and hazardous drinking”, and the WHO uses the same terminology.

The Action Plan identifies a number of population subgroups for their priority of actions, such as young people, pregnant women, drivers and “heavy drinkers”. These subgroups will be most effectively influenced by approaches which reduces alcohol consumption in the whole population. A whole population approach will also benefit other important population groups such as older people, work force, people on low incomes and women of childbearing age[1].

Eurocare believes that in order to effectively target alcohol related harm, the EC should build on the knowledge of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Best Buys- set of well established, effective and cost effective public health interventions for alcohol policy. Eurocare highlights WHO's recommendation of actions in areas of price, marketing and availability[2].

Read Final Eurocare Response to Structure for EU Alcohol January 2014

[1] Anderson, P., Chisholm, D., Fuhr, D.C. (2009) Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of policies and programmes to reduce the harm caused by alcohol. Lancet, 373: 2234–46.

[2]http://www.who.int/nmh/publications/who_bestbuys_to_prevent_ncds.pdf