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EU Alcohol Strategy: Progress Report (2009)

The European Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) has produced an initial status report on what has happened at EU and national level since the EU alcohol strategy was adopted in October 2006.

The status report was presented at the expert conference on alcohol and health organised by the Swedish presidency in cooperation with DG SANCO in September 2009.

The next progress report is due in 2012.

Click here to download the full progress report.

Executive Summary

Since the adoption of the Strategy, there has been considerable activity on the part of the Commission, the Member States and the wider stakeholders to set up the infrastructure for implementation.

DG Health and Consumers has focused on developing the appropriate structure for strategy implementation, with the aim to engage, or bring together relevant actors on specific priority topics.

The new structures include the Committee on National Alcohol Policy and Action, the European Alcohol and Health Forum and the Committee on Data Collection, Indicators and Definitions.

A number of other Community policy areas, such as Transport, have also taken concrete actions that contribute to the priority areas of the Alcohol Strategy.

A range of alcohol-focussed projects have been carried out under Community Health Programmes 2003-2008.

Across the EU Member States there has been a steady convergence of actions towards those identified as good practice. Most Member States now have a written alcohol policy in place.

There is a continuous trend towards an age limit of 18 years for selling and serving alcohol, and towards lowered Blood Alcohol Concentration limits for drivers of motorised vehicles. Annex 1 describes the development of policy and action in EU Member States.

Wider stakeholders have been engaged through the new European Alcohol and Health Forum. Members of the Forum include public health NGOs, alcohol manufacturers and producers and health professionals, and membership has grown to over 60. Members have launched over 100 commitments to act to reduce alcohol related harm, and a balanced group of Forum Members has closely explored a range of specific topics; such as marketing communication, national structures for self regulation, and youth.

The Forum's Science Group has adopted a scientific opinion on the relationship between marketing communication and the volume and pattern of young people alcohol consumption. This opinion is valuable for developing the next steps on this topic.

In conclusion, the recent activity makes for a promising start, but more needs to be done by all in the framework of the consensus strategic approach.

In addition, the recent financial crisis argues for a greater policy focus on specific aspects of alcohol policy, such as the relationship between alcohol consumption and health inequalities, if health outcomes are to improve.