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Member States ask for a new EU Alcohol Strategy

In the Council of the European Union (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs) Conclusions Member States have asked European Commission for new EU Alcohol Strategy.

A number of countries voiced their strong support and need for a new EU Alcohol Strategy. It was reiterated that alcohol is one of the main key risk factors and in order to tackle Europe’s health problems it has to be sufficiently addressed.

Swedish government highlighted that there was a need for a political action to tackle damage caused by alcohol across the EU. Finish Health Minister has stressed that it was not enough to work on the old strategy as recently suggested by the European Commission (see European Commission announces there will be no new alcohol strategy) The Estonian representative highlighted that new strategy should look into areas where the EU has competence such as increase in excise duties and labelling. The UK representative drew attention to the costs of alcohol to health systems across the EU and emphasised that action at the EU level would enable European countries to work together and stop scourge of alcohol related harm.

New Commissioner for Health and Consumers Tonio Borg noted the call for a new alcohol strategy however said that the Commission intends to finalise the current EU alcohol strategy before launching another.

The current EU Alcohol Strategy was designed to cover period from 2006 to 2012.

Member States have already stressed the importance of addressing alcohol related harm at the EU level in the past (Swedish presidency conclusions on alcohol and health in 2009 and Polish presidency conclusions in 2011)

Eurocare together with over 88 NGOs across Europe have called last November (2011) upon the European Commission to produce new EU Alcohol Strategy. Over the last year Eurocare has been advocating for the need to address alcohol related harm at the EU level and presented its recommendations in the European Parliament in June this year (Eurocare recommendations for a future EU Alcohol Strategy). Moreover, even some representatives of the alcohol industry have been asking for renewal of the EU Alcohol Strategy.

It remains to be seen whether the European Commission will answer to these calls.