Opinion Factsheet  

The need for and way towards an EU strategy on alcohol-related issues

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Opinion Number: CDR 1831/2016
Rapporteur: KARLSSON Ewa-May
Commission: NAT
Status: Adopted
Date: 08/02/2017
 
Put the child´s best interest and perspective first
Limit exposure to minors for marketing and advertising of alcohol
Reduce accessibility and prevent sale of cheap alcohol
Promote alcohol labelling including calories intake
Reduce drunk-driving for increased traffic safety
This Opinion substantially increased the profile and inter-institutional visibility of the CoR in the field. The rapporeur met an impressive number of stakeholders and attended some high profile conferences.

The rapporteur attended addressed the 7th European Alcohol Policy Conference on 21-22 November 2016 in Ljubljana, Slovenia with the theme: Alcohol policy for Sustainable Development – ACT NOW. This was the seventh in a series of high level conferences with the participation of more than five Health ministers from across Europe, the European Commission, the World Health Organization, researchers and public health officials. The aim of the conference was to raise awareness about the current burden of alcohol in Europe, to look at the latest development in Europe and explore ways in which cost-effective alcohol policies can contribute to creation of sustainable health system savings.

Ewa-May Karlsson also addressed a policy dialogue organised by RARHA (Reduced Alcohol Related harm) on 6 September 2016.
The rapporteur has also been invited to address meetings of the Committee on National Alcohol Policy and Action (CNAPA).

Following consultations between the CoR and the EP rapporteurs, the EP submitted a written question to the European Commission, published in December 2016, referring to a number of issues of importance to the CoR, such as the timetable for a new alcohol strategy, an EU wide labelling scheme for alcohol products and EU action on 5 recommendations issued by a recent study on the prevention of drink-driving by the use of alcohol interlock devices.

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

 observes that the harmful use of alcohol has a significant social cost, and stresses that the wellbeing, health and welfare of the European public must take priority over economic interests;

 calls for a new EU alcohol strategy, and would like assurances that the EU's institutions will continue to strengthen Member States' capacities and provide effective coordination. The Committee thus endorses the call from both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament for strong political leadership on the issue;

 stresses that the European Commission needs to help, not hinder, those Member States that choose to develop their alcohol prevention measures;

 highlights the importance of giving local and regional authorities the opportunity to contribute their experience and knowledge, as they have influence over and the best knowledge of the requirements and conditions for preventing the harmful use of alcohol and limiting its negative effects on society;

 believes that it is important to identify the areas of action that should be developed in the Member States to reduce large-scale alcohol consumption among young people, with the aim of ensuring a safe and healthy environment for children and young people;

 feels that efforts to reduce the exposure of children and young people to alcohol marketing and advertising must take account of marketing via social media and the internet, as well as product placement and other products related to alcohol brands;

 urges the EU institutions to improve alcohol labelling at EU level and to finalise the report on how to include alcohol packaging in existing legislation on content labelling with ingredients, nutrition information and calorie content; stresses that consumers have a right to know what products contain, so that they can make informed choices;

 feels that more can be done to work together to improve road safety in the EU, among other things by reviewing alcohol-related road accidents and sharing experience between Member States regarding effective measures in this field. It is important for new drivers to be aware of the consequences of drink driving.

Importance

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Medium
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An open debate "Rethinking your trip"

The rapporteur will participate in an open debate on "Rethinking your trip", organised by the Government of the Balearic Islands, the European Institute of Studies on Prevention and the European Alcohol Policy Alliance on 13 February in Palma, Mallorca.

Excessive alcohol intake by air passengers has economic, medical and welfare ramifications, and is identified as a top three risk to aviation safety. Incidents on airplanes may in the worst scenarios endanger the lives of many. Apart from the nuisance incurred to the other passengers, drunkenness on airplanes causes flights to be diverted, distracts the cabin crew from their normal safety duties and implies a hazard in emergency evacuations.

Similarly, excessive alcohol consumption seems to be continuing beyond the flight itself, causing anti-social behaviour and endangering their health. In this sense, dangerous practices or uncivil behaviours appear in some tourist destinations.

Thus, the aim of the Summit in Palma is to generate a policy debate in order to exchange knowledge and explore potential policy solutions.

The event will consist of an introductory section, with political and contextual speeches, and a technical part divided in two consecutive debate tables. The first one will focus on alcohol and fly-related incidents, whereas the second one will tackle alcohol on clubs and party areas and hotel-related problems.

 
13 Feb
 

Audiovisual media: agreement reached on new media services directive

EP negotiators and the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU agreed on substantial rules for audiovisual media services, including digital platforms, on Thursday evening.
...Health and safety concerns regarding minors are also addressed. The new law includes strict rules on advertising or product placement in children’s TV programmes or content available on video-on-demand platforms. Measures should be put in place to effectively reduce children’s exposure to publicity on unhealthy food or beverages. Product placement and teleshopping will be prohibited in children’s programmes, while member states can decide individually whether they also want to exclude sponsorship from children’s programmes...

 
26 Apr
 

Meeting with the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Mr Andriukaitis

Ms Ewa-May Karlsson met the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis on 23 January 2018. Discussions focused on the latest developments regarding the alcohol policy as well as possible next steps at EU, local and regional level. They both agreed there is an urgent need to tackle the challenges of the adverse effects of alcohol consumption. This can be done only by joining forces.

 
23 Jan
 

The Council conclusions referring to the CoR opinion on Alcohol policy

The Council conclusions on cross-border aspects in alcohol policy – tackling harmful use of alcohol explicitly refer to the CoR opinion:

"…RECALLS the opinion issued by the Committee of the Regions on 9 February 2017 on 'The need for and way towards an EU strategy on alcohol-related issues', which calls for a new EU alcohol strategy, endorsing the call from the Council and from the European Parliament for strong political leadership on the issue, and highlighting particular areas for action, such as reducing the exposure of children and young people to alcohol marketing and advertising, improving alcohol labelling at EU level and improving road safety."

 
08 Dec
 

Letter sent to the Estonian Presidency

The rapporteur sent a letter with the CoR recommendations on Alcohol Policy to the Estonian Presidency so as to feed into upcoming Health Council on 7-8 December 2017.

 
14 Nov
 

Estonian Presidency conference on Cross-border aspects in Alcohol Policy

The CoR rapporteur Ms Karlsson (SE/ALDE) spoke at the Presidency conference on Cross-Border Aspects in Alcohol Policy – Tackling Harmful Use of Alcohol, 30-31 October in Tallinn.

More in particular, the rapporteur underlined some of the CoR recommendations:

  • The well-being, health and welfare of the European public must take priority over economic interests. Economic benefits linked with the production, sale and use of this commodity come at an enormous cost to society.
  • Ban marketing and advertising of alcohol to children, including via social media and to move away from self-monitoring and self-regulation.
  • Cooperation between Member States is essential. We cannot solve alcohol related issues in isolation with measures only at national level. This is why we need a common EU Alcohol Strategy.
  • The European Commission needs to help, not hinder those Member States that choose to develop their alcohol prevention measures further.
  • Local and regional authorities should have the opportunity to contribute their experience and knowledge, as they have influence over and the best knowledge of the requirements and conditions for preventing the harmful use of alcohol and limiting its negative effects on society.

 
30 Oct
 

The rapporteur spoke at the Informal Council meeting of Health ministers

The rapporteur Ms Ewa-May Karlsson spoke on the second day of the Informal meeting of Health ministers in Tallin on 21 July, presenting the CoR view on the topic :

  • The CoR members' base-line: the well-being, health and welfare of the European public must take priority over economic interests.
  • The highest alcohol consumption per habitant and an increasing prevalence of obesity in the EU have one factor in common labelling. Therefore, the EU institutions should improve alcohol labelling at EU level.
  • Regarding the ongoing revision of the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive: the marketing and advertising of alcohol to children and young, under-aged people should be prohibited.
  • The European Commission needs to help, not hinder, those Member States that choose to develop their alcohol prevention measures.
  • Synergies established at the EU level are needed that is why we need an EU strategy on Alcohol.

 
21 Jul
 

A debate on Alcohol during the Almedalen Week

The rapporteur Ms Karlsson will speak in the debate on alcohol during the Almedalen Week.

This is an annual event taking place within Almedalen, a park in the city of Visby on the Swedish island Gotland. It is considered to be the most important forum in Swedish politics.

 
04 Jul
 

Meeting with the forthcoming Estonian Presidency

The rapporteur met the Health councillor, Ms Täht to discuss Estonian presidency's priorities.

 
15 Jun
 

The rapporteur spoke in a panel discussion on alcohol in Stockholm

The rapporteur Ms Karlsson spoke in a panel discussion on a need to reduce alcohol consumption, alongside the Swedish MEP, Ms Jytte Guteland.

 
09 Jun
 

The European Commission publishes the Report on mandatory labeling in alcohol beverages

The European Commission published long-awaited report on mandatory labeling of ingredients and calories in alcoholic beverages. It gives the alcohol industry a year to come up with a proposal to inform consumers on the ingredients and calories contained in products. Commission is thus giving industry the opportunity to self-regulate before it considers mandatory rules.

If this fails or if it proves unsatisfactory, The Commission will start an impact assessment to consider both legally binding and non-legally binding measures.

In its opinion, The CoR called upon the European Commission to issue the long due report and urged the EU institutions to improve alcohol labelling at EU level.

 
13 Mar
 

Adoption of the opinion during the 121st Plenary session

Adoption in Plenary with majority.

 
09 Feb
 

The rapporteur addressed the 7th European Alcohol Policy conference in Ljubljana

The rapporteur addressed the 7th European Alcohol Policy Conference on 21-22 November 2016 in Ljubljana, Slovenia with the theme: Alcohol policy for Sustainable Development – ACT NOW. This is the seventh in a series of conferences of this kind with the participation of more than five Health ministers from across Europe, the European Commission, the World Health Organization, researchers and public health officials. The aim of the conference is to raise awareness about the current burden of alcohol in Europe, to look at the latest development in Europe and explore ways in which cost-effective alcohol policies can contribute to creation of sustainable health system savings.

The following topics were discussed:
The impact of alcohol on inequalities in health, poverty and sustainable development; Alcohol policy and politics: the way forward ; how to reduce inequalities; young people and drinking; Innovative approaches to implement alcohol policy; New developments and country case studies.

 
21 Nov
 

The rapporteur addressed the RARHA's Policy Dialogue

RARHA (Reducting alcohol related harm) presented the findings of its three years project about Alcohol consumption and harms in Europe today. It also introduced its tool-kit for evidence-based good practices in action to prevent alcohol related harm. The rapporteur participated at the discussions on how to make use of these results and foster implementation and sustainability. Other panelists included: John Ryan, Director, DG SANTE, European Commission;
Jose Inacio Faria, MEP, European Parliament;
Lubomir Okruhlica, Director, Center for Drug Addiction, Slovakia

 
06 Sep
 

Meeting with different stakeholders

Following up on their meetings in May, the rapporteur and her expert met with following stakeholders in order to collect their views on the issues at stake: the European Public Health Alliance, the Alcohol Policy Youth Network, the EUCAM and Brewers of Europe.

 
15 Jun
 

Meeting with different stakeholders

The rapporteur met with following stakeholders: Eurocare, Eurohealtnet, European Chronic disease alliance (ECDA), European public health alliance, EUCAM, Alcohol Policy Youth Network, Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV), Wine in moderation and Brewers of Europe to collect their views on the issues at stake.

 
24 May
 

Meeting the European Commission DG Health and Food Safety officials

The rapporteur met the Deputy Head of Unit for Health Determinants, Mr Artur Furtado and his team to discuss Commission's work programme in the field.

 
23 May
 

Appointment of the rapporteur

Appointment of Ms Ewy-May Karlsson (SE/ALDE) as rapporteur for the CoR opinion on "The need for and way towards an EU strategy on alcohol-related issues"

 
01 Mar
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