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Eurocare and Members to join the EC's Alcohol and Health Forum

Brussels, 7 June 2007. Today marks the launch of the European Commission's ‘Alcohol and Health Forum', a multistakeholder platform bringing together civil society and businesses pledging to take action to reduce alcohol related harm in Europe. Eurocare welcomes the action oriented remit of the Forum and is committed to fully supporting DG Sanco, whose work has been pivotal in firmly establishing alcohol on the EU political agenda. We hope that all European alcohol producers and retailers will participate in the Forum, and commit to evidence based actions, thus explicitly recognising their responsibilities towards curbing alcohol related harm in Europe, in particular among young people.

The Alcohol and Health Forum represents the backbone of the European Commission's ‘EU Strategy to Support Member States in Reducing Alcohol Related Harm'. The Strategy, released last October, addresses the adverse health effects related to harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption as well as the related economic and social consequences. The Council of Ministers first voiced the need for a comprehensive EU level strategy in 2001; despite the efforts and mobilisation of both DG Sanco and Europe's public health community to protect the health and well being of European citizens, the final strategy reflected the alcohol industry's intensive and unprecedented lobbying campaign. Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou shared this concern at the time and admitted that he had been “surprised at the aggressiveness of the lobbying campaign by certain parts of the alcohol industry (which) created doubts as to their willingness to cooperate”. Participation in the Forum and voluntary commitment to concrete action, is crucial for these sections of the alcohol industry, in order to regain credibility, promote corporate social responsibility, and above all, avoid the implementation of EU level legislation.

The Forum, hosted by DG Sanco, is modelled on the EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, launched in March 2005. It focuses on concrete ‘commitments' for action, which will be assessed, monitored and evaluated with the assistance of a Science Group. The ‘Committee on National Policy and Action', a structure separate to the Forum composed of Member States representatives, will coordinate national alcohol policies and ensure translational exchange of good practice.

Andrew McNeill, Honorary Secretary of Eurocare said: “ We welcome the presence of a Science Group, to ensure that industry commitments are evidence based and relevant. Most importantly, we are pleased to see a clear separation between the Forum as a platform for action, and the Committee on National Policy and Action as one for policy discussion among member states: we believe public health policies on alcohol should be formulated without the interference of commercial interests.”