EPHA and Eurocare argue that the new EU Action Plan needs to complement the WHO “European Action Plan to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol, 2012-2020and to recognise the evidence base to support effective alcohol policies in Europe, as presented by “Alcohol in the European Union” (WHO, 2012).

EPHA and Eurocare call for a renewed alcohol strategy and also believe that an EU Alcohol Strategy would lay out a longer-term context to support the continuation of efforts at the EU level to address alcohol related harm. In line with several EU member states, we are disappointed that this has not been forthcoming. Member states called for a new more comprehensive strategy and underlined the need for further work on alcohol related harm.

Based on this, we recommend the following items for inclusion in the EU Action Plan:

  • Alcohol pricing policies
  • Marketing of alcoholic beverages
  • Availability of alcohol
  • Drink-driving policies and countermeasures
  • Consumer information – product labelling
  • Alcohol research and monitoring programmes
  • Capacity and network building and learning exchange Nonetheless, we welcome the announced EU Action Plan on Alcohol (hereafter EU Action Plan) and would offer the following comments on what it should include.

Furthermore, we believe that an EU Action Plan must:

  • Be based on the best available scientific evidence
  • Be informed and underpinned by a coherent policy framework
  • Address the full spectrum of alcohol problems within the EU and the need for whole population-level responses
  • Include an approach to all EU policy-making which supports reduction of alcohol harms
  • Set clear targets and objectives and be externally monitored and evaluated
  • Pay attention to the need to reduce health inequalities across the EU and within Member States.

- Eurocare explains the arguments for a comprehensive action plan.

Alcohol is the world’s number one risk factor for ill-health and premature death amongst the 25-59 year old age group, a core of the working age population. Europe is the heaviest drinking region of the world and alcohol is a major threat to the public health, safety and economic prosperity of EU citizens. Alcohol has been classified by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Category One carcinogen, defining it as a determinant of many types of cancer. Increased alcohol consumption is also linked to increasing levels of obesity and diabetes in European populations.

Consumption levels in some EU countries are around 2.5 times higher than the global average[1]. Evidence demonstrates that the harm caused by alcohol is related to overall drinking levels, as well as drinking patterns. Reducing alcohol-related harm across the EU requires action to reduce population alcohol consumption, as measured by per capita consumption of pure alcohol, as well as incidents of risky single occasion drinking.

A substantial evidence base exists on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm. Effective interventions include population-level measures and those targeted at specific high-risk groups. A comprehensive action plan needs to incorporate both types of intervention to reduce alcohol-related harm, not just for problem drinkers but also for other people, such as children, families and communities, who are negatively affected by their drinking behaviours.

- Initial NGO recommendations for the new EU Action Plan on Alcohol

Related EPHA articles

- [EU-US trade agreement] Would it benefit Europe’s public health?
- [European Partnership for Action Against Cancer] Let’s talk about cancer prevention
- [Joint press statement] Eurocare and EPHA response to misleading industry media campaign ahead of the 13th plenary meeting of the European Alcohol and Health Forum
- [Joint media reaction] Minimum Alcohol Price: Scottish High Court on the side of public health
- [Joint Press Release] In the fight against alcohol misuse, pricing policies are the way to go
- [EU Commission report] Health inequalities in the EU. Gaps in life expectancy and infant mortality narrow; unequal progress and gradient prevalent

Last modified on November 28 2013.