Brewers of Europe

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Alcohol badge.jpg This article is part of the Spinwatch public health oriented Alcohol Portal project.

The Brewers of Europe is a trade and lobbying organisation for the European brewing sector. It was founded in 1958 and is based in Brussels. It has members in twenty EU states, plus Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Ultimately its role is to influence policy and protect the business interests of brewers across Europe.[1]

The Brewers of Europe lists its priorities as follows:

  • To advocate moderate and responsible beer consumption as part of a balanced, healthy and social life style
  • To promote initiatives and campaigns to inform consumers of the benefits of moderate beer consumption and the risk of alcohol abuse
  • To support and initiate continued independent scientific research into the relationship between beer consumption, health and behaviour and into issues relating to quality and safety throughout the supply chain
  • To promote independent self-regulation as an effective and credible alternative to the consumption control approach
  • To fight excise distortions throughout Europe.[2]

Commercial freedom and self-regulation

The World Health Organisation and the European Commission have put pressure on the Brewers of Europe to ensure that the alcohol industry does not direct advertising at young people or encourage excessive and harmful use of alcohol. In reaction to this, Brewers of Europe imposed a policy of self-regulation. The policy says that members have to ensure that their commercial advertisements do not encourage underage drinkers or misuse of alcohol. To ensure that none of their members were advertising in an unethical manner, all advertising literature was reviewed regardless as to whether it had been subject to complaints or not. This process was made possible with the help of the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA). The majority of adverts reviewed were in the UK and in Germany.[3]

Responsible consumption

Brewers of Europe is a member of the Worldwide Brewing Alliance and as such takes part in worldwide initiatives that are designed to forward the ideal of the organisation as a whole. An example would be the notion of "responsible consumption", which promotes the idea that the problems associated with alcohol are due to "misuse" of the product (and therefore the responsibility of the consumer rather than the producer).[4]

One of the initiatives of the Worldwide Brewing Alliance is the French website [5] in 2006, which is described as:

The first website made by beer producers to inform people about the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations on responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages: no more than 2 unitsIII for women, 3 for men per diem and none in a few instances (pregnancy, childhood, etc). The website was launched in the national daily press with an advertising campaign to publicise the site and to remind people to enjoy beer with responsibility.[6]

Alcohol industry and science

The Brewers of Europe hired the Weinberg Group to counter any adverse business consequences of the report "Alcohol in Europe" by Dr Peter Anderson. Anderson noted that despite reviews which called his work important, accurate and impressive that "... the [Alcohol] industry has still been determined to present its own views as ‘evidence-based’. Between the release of our report and the final strategy, the Brewers of Europe paid for what they described as an ‘independent report . . .reviewed by an independent scientific panel’, a surprising claim given that the report’s coordinators say they help companies . . . to clear regulatory hurdles, and defend products in the courts and the media’. [7]

Martin McKee, a professor of public health, shares Anderson's concerns. McKee criticized the Weinberg Group for writing a paper on alcohol regulation for the european alcohol industry. McKee said of the report:

Its content is remarkably similar to the tobacco industry reports that contended there was insufficient evidence that its products caused any harm or that preventive measures would be effective. For example, it concludes that "there is not enough evidence to substantiate a link between alcohol advertising and consumption," which raises the question of why the industry spends so much money promoting its products, and that "violence is a subjective term which is fairly nebulous and elastic," a view unlikely to be shared by those scarred by bottles wielded by drunks. Now that the methods used by the tobacco industry have been exposed, few serious commentators believe what they say. Unfortunately, the alcohol industry seems to be going down the same path. European commissioners will miss a valuable opportunity to improve the health of their fellow citizens if they are taken in by the alcohol industry's arguments.[8].

Firms like Weinberg make no secret of their commitment to framing the scientific evidence to best suit the business case. This has serious consequences for evidence based policy. As McKee noted the European Commission"may be the victim of a carefully planned attack by representatives of the alcohol industry" various tactics were utilised by the industry in moves to minimise harm to their business from measure to control the growing levels of alcohol related harm in Europe [9].


The Brewers of Europe are members of the:





Czech Republic







The Irish Brewers' Association













United Kingdom



  1. Brewers of Europe Website Organisation & Mission Accessed 28 June 2007
  2. "About Us", The Brewers of Europe website, accessed February 2009.
  3. "Briefing Document on Beer Advertising in Europe", The Brewers of Europe, 2007, accessed February 2009
  4. "Worldwide Brewing Alliance: Global Social Responsibility Initiatives", Worldwide Brewing Alliance, 2007, p. 3.
  5. French Reperes-Alcool Website Accessed 18.03.08
  6. Global Social Responsibility Initiatives: An initiative of the Worldwide Brewing Alliance Published: 5/10/2007 Brewers of Europe Publications Accessed 19.03.08
  7. Anderson & Baumberg, Alcohol & Alcoholism Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 1–2, 2007 THE EUROPEAN STRATEGY ON ALCOHOL: A LANDMARK AND A LESSON
  8. Martin McKee, BMJ Editorial, October 16th 2006 A European alcohol strategy Will the opportunity be missed? Last accessed December 4rd 2007
  9. Martin McKee, BMJ Editorial, October 16th 2006 A European alcohol strategy Will the opportunity be missed? Last accessed December 4rd 2007
  10. Europa Website Public Health Accessed 28th June 2007
  11. Brewers of Europe Website Members Last Acessed 1st July 2007