Open Letter to MEPs- EU Alcohol Strategy Resolution should put public health first

By EASL March 12,2015
Theme Hepatitis C

RE: Motion for a Resolution on Alcohol Strategy- suggestions for compromise amendments

I am writing to you on behalf of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare), the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), the European Liver Patients Association (ELPA), United European Gastroenterology (UEG) the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL) Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) and Royal College of Physicians (UK) British Medical Association in view of your work in the ENVI Committee on the EU Alcohol Strategy


Resolution.

We have noted a great interest in the text of the resolution (with over 360 amendments) and welcome your interest in this important public health topic. However, we are particularly disappointed to observe that the ENVI Committee resolution amendments in some aspects appear to do more to promote commercial interests than public health.

As Europe is the world's heaviest drinking region, alcohol abuse constitutes a major public health problem that inflicts large-scale socio-economic damage. Addressing alcohol-related harm is crucial to reduce health inequalities. There is a clear body of evidence to suggest that the burden of disease and deaths related to alcohol are found to disproportionately affect the most deprived. Reducing alcohol-induced harm is an active investment into our economies that cuts long-term healthcare expenditures on severe diseases and raises workforce productivity.

It is therefore disheartening to see amendments rejecting:

  • Better regulation and the enforcement of age limits (Paragraphs 13, 15)
  • Provision of better information to consumers through the appropriate labelling of nutritional composition and ingredients (Paragraph 4)
  • Calls for a new EU Alcohol Strategy to support Member States in their efforts (Paragraph 5)
  • Measurable time- restricted policy goals and adequate mechanisms for monitoring (Paragraph 11)

It is especially concerning to see amendments suggesting that public money should be spent on campaigns promoting alcohol consumption when the EU has already committed more than a billion Euros to support marketing campaigns over the next three years.

Accordingly, as members of the ENVI committee we would urge you to place public health at the forefront of your deliberations.

Thank you for your attention, we remain at your disposal if you should have any questions.

With kind regards,
Mariann Skar
Eurocare, Secretary General