Self-regulation is not an answer
Policy makers must not rely on self-regulation, but rather follow up through more statutory measures to protect the consumers.
Last week, major producers from the alcohol industry together with the World Federation of Advertising presented The Responsible Marketing Pact which scales up self-regulation..
As a response, Civil Society Organisations with diverse backgrounds are now reminding policy makers at European and Member State level about the need for better regulation and co-regulation, and urge the European Commission and Member States officials not to jump on easy solutions in a new EU Alcohol Strategy 2013-2020.
“It cannot be left to the producers of a harmful product to decide how, when and where it will be marketed. Policy makers must not rely on self-regulation, but rather follow up through more statutory measures to protect the consumers. The content of this pact is basically the old ineffective measures of self-regulation in a new package. What we are witnessing are two powerful industries formally coming together to fight regulation- this is alarming”, says Mariann Skar, Secretary General of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance.
Not only the lack of effective regulation that reduces the volume of marketing is of great concern, but also the internal character of the self-regulatory system is problematic. “The very least the Commission should do is setting the standards for the self-regulation – and standards aimed at protecting health should be meaningful and drawn up in consultation with the health community, with a clear mandate for progression to more overt regulation (Loi Evin) when it becomes clear that the industry is not abiding by them“, says Dr Nick Sheron, the Royal College of Physicians (UK) representative to the EU Alcohol Forum.
A self-regulatory approach to alcohol marketing and health warning labels has recently been put forward as an important element in a new EU Alcohol Strategy . However, self-regulation has proved not to fulfil its purpose. For example back in 2007 the UK Government tried a voluntary labelling scheme. Regrettably, the industry did not keep its own promises and only 15% complied with the agreement they drafted themselves
“The alcohol industry has had more than a fair chance to prove self-regulation can work”, says Andrea Lavesson, President of Active – sobriety, friendship and peace. “Evidence shows that self-regulation does not work for protecting children and youth”.
Europe is still the heaviest drinking region in the world, and the problems arising from alcohol harm are not only matters for Member States alone, but need to be addressed at the EU level to be effectively solved.
Eurocare together with 28 European and national NGOs (see list below) call for European Commission and the governments to take concrete and binding decisions that will help us all to address the alcohol related harm in the new EU Alcohol Strategy.
Active – Sobriety, Friendship and Peace (Europe)
Alcohol Action Ireland
Alcohol Concern (United Kingdom)
Alcohol Policy Youth Network - APYN (Europe)
ANPAA - Assocation Nationale de Prevention en Alcoologie et Addictologie (France)
Asociacion Ex-Alcoholicos Españoles (Spain)
Association of European Cancer Leagues (Europe)
Associacio Rauxa (Spain)
CRA-Ricardo Pampuri (Portugal)
European Association for the Study of the Liver (Europe)
EPHA - European Public Health Alliance (Europe)
Estonian Temperance Union (Estionia)
Fundación Salud y Comunidad (Spain)
National Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition (Lithuania)
National Youth Council of Ireland (Ireland)
North West Alcohol Forum (Ireland)
Novo Rumo (Portugal)
Royal College of Physicians (United Kingdom)
Sociedade Anti- Alcoólica Portuguesa (Portugal)
Standing Committee of European Doctors (Europe)
Youth Association No Excuse (Slovenia)
 - European Commission about Self Regulation and health warning labels: http://www.euractiv.com/specialreport-reviewing-europes-alcohol-harm-strategy/health-chief-wanted-drinking-kills-labels-news
- SAB Miller health warning labels: http://www.euractiv.com/specialreport-reviewing-europes-alcohol-harm-strategy/europeans-diverge-alcohol-taste-tax-marketing-
 Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association (CCFRA) ‘Monitoring Implementation of Alcohol Labelling Regime. Retrieved from: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Healthimprovement/Alcoholmisuse/DH_085390
Translations of the press release