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28/10/2011

Conclusions from the European Expert Conference on Alcohol (MEDUSA)

European Member State officials, medical experts and civil society came together in Poznan to discuss medical and economic disadvantages of using alcohol. During the two days new research was presented, focusing among other things on alcohols impact on heart disease and the unborn baby.

Mariann Skar, Secretary General of Eurocare, presented Eurocare’s views on the need for action at European and national level, especially regarding marketing towards young people, consumer information, availability, affordability and monitoring of data. Eurocare is very satisfied after the two days. “This conference demonstrated the urgent need for action among Member States, and is a strong signal from the alcohol policy community to the European Commission that a new alcohol strategy is needed from 2012”.

The conference also addresses the need to establish a European body focusing on monitoring, data gathering policy implementation, prevention and capacity building.

Draft Statement from the European Expert Conference,
Medical and Economic Disadvantages of Using Alcohol (MEDUSA) - Poznan 11-12 October 2011

The participants acknowledge the scientific evidences and the results presented at conference. In the European Union, harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption is the third most significant risk factor for ill-health and premature death. Harmful use of alcohol is a major public health concern. Comprehensive and effective alcohol policies are therefore crucial both at national, regional and EU levels

Note that in 2006, the European Commission launched its Communication on an EU strategy to support Member States in reducing alkohol-related harm; in 2010 the Sixty-third World Health Assembly adopted the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol and, in September 2011 the third European action plan to reduce the harmful use of alcohol was adopted.

Note that even if Member States have the main responsibility for national alcohol policy, there is need for international coordination, collaboration and support of the European Commission to complement national public health policies .

The MEDUSA Expert Conference reiterate the Council Conclusions on Alcohol and Health adopted by the EU Health Ministers in November 2009, that the Commission should:

  • Continue to provide strong support to Member States

  • Report to the Council, in 2012 at the latest, on the progress and outcome of the Commission’s work and on activities reported by Member States
  • Define priorities for the next phase of the Commission’s work on alcohol and health after the end of the current strategy in 2012.
  • Underline the need to take the necessary steps to ensure that reducing alcohol- related health- and social harm is recognised in the implementation of all relevant Community policies and activities
  • Take the necessary steps to protect young peopel from exposure of alcohol marketing and to provide consumers with evidence based information on alcohol’s impact on health.
  • Acknowledge the need to strengthen closer cooperation between Member States and thus the need to establish a body at European level focusing on monitoring, data gathering policy implementation, prevention and capacity building

Finally, the meeting urges policy-makers to make use of the substantial scientific knowledge base that exists on effective and cost-effective strategies and interventions to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm