Difference between revisions of "European Alcohol and Health Forum"

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#{{note|8}} ibid (4)
#{{note|8}} ibid (4)
[[Category:Alcohol]][[Category:Alcohol Industry]][[Category:Alcohol Policy Groups]]
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Revision as of 08:46, 14 May 2012

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


The European Alcohol and Health Forum represents the backbone of the European Commission’s ‘EU Strategy to Support Member States in Reducing Alcohol Related Harm’. The forum is part of the EU strategy to tackle alcohol related harm and the economic and social consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. Since 2001 the Council of Ministers has expressed the need for a comprehensive EU level strategy, but according to EUROCARE "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...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." [1]

The Forum

More than 40 businesses and non-governmental organisations, responding to a European Commission initiative, agreed on 7 June 2007 to take action to protect European citizens from the harmful use of alcohol. EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou and representatives of the businesses and NGO's signed in Brussels the Charter establishing the European Alcohol and Health Forum. The forum is based on the format of the European Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health established in 2005 by the then European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou who has been open to the idea of self-regulation centered on setting up multi-stakeholder groups. The Forum, scheduled to meet twice a year, will focus on concrete actions to protect children and young people from alcohol related harm and to prevent irresponsible commercial alcohol communication and sales. The move comes at a time when an estimated 200,000 Europeans die every year because of harmful alcohol use. More than one out of four deaths among young men is attributed to alcohol.

At the forum's launch EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: "My expectations for this Forum are high, as they need to be given the health challenge posed by alcohol related harm. In particular I expect the alcoholic beverages industry to market their products responsibly. The media, advertisers, retailers, as well as owners of pubs and bars should also contribute to changing attitudes and behaviours, especially among young people. We simply cannot afford to see so many young European lives being wasted every year because of the inappropriate use of alcohol."

The Forum, hosted by DG Sanco, is modeled 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 [2]

Platform for Action

It is hoped that the forum will become a 'platform for action' with twice a year meetings expected to develop a 'Science Group' to provide advice and guidance. The forum is also able to establish Task Forces, two are already running covering the areas of marketing communication and youth specfic aspects of alcohol. In order to become a member of the forum organisations are required to demonstrate their commitment to take action in a written submission. Members must put forward their plans for action with details of the proposed objectives with details of how the organisation will evaluate and monitor the progress towards fulfilling their commitment to reduce alcohol related harm. [3]

Mixed Reaction to Strategy

The forum, part of a wider alcohol reduction strategy, has recieved a mixed reaction from stakeholders and forum members. EUROCARE believe the overall strategy to be very weak, although they welcome any opportunity to work within European policy circles in order to combat excessive European alcohol consumption and related harms [4]. EUROCARE also expressed disapointment that the alcohol industry and other parts of the commission "have ensured that the strategy reflects the undue influence of the alcohol industry, which has been responsible for one of the most intensive lobbying campaigns ever known in regard to public health policy" [5].

According to Dr Peter Anderson, author of the Alcohol in Europe report, "The alcohol industry has lobbied to put their own profits above the needs of the European people, with commission officials other than those directly involved with health issues surrendering to its pressure". He also regards the proposed EU alcohol policy as "much weaker than the first draft and has a much greater focus on education as the answer to solving the problems of alcohol, when the evidence shows that it does not work [6]. Andrew McNeill, Honorary Secretary of EUROCARE said "We regret to see the industry’s paw prints are all over the Communication", adding "Given that the industry has made it abundantly clear that it is opposed to the whole idea of a public health strategy on alcohol, how can it possibly be seen as a main collaborator in implementing it" [7].

Commissioner Markos Kyprianou rejected the criticism and denied that the alcohol industry had in effect watered down the findings, "The communication came out the way it was intended to,”. However even Kypriano had to admit to being "surprised at the aggressiveness of the lobbying campaign by certain parts of the alcohol industry" [8]

The European Spirits Organisation are , unsurprisingly, more positive, their press release announcing their place at the forum, "Having played an important role in the cross-stakeholder dialogue leading up to the creation of the Forum, EU spirits producers look forward to playing an active and fully participatory part in this body and hope that commitments made under its governance will receive the recognition and backing they deserve from EU officials, national Health Ministries and others." They believe that self regulation is the way forward, a view echoed by the alcohol industry and numerous advertising associations with forum membership [9].

The Comite European des Enterprises Vins wine and health working group chairman, George Sandeman, said the committee was "convinced that there is a business case for a healthy Europe and that wine is a part of it" [10]. While the UK Wine & Spirit Trade Association chief executive Jeremy Beadles summed up the general mood of the alcohol industry “We are particularly pleased to see that the Communication has no specific plans related to alcohol taxation or product labelling and recognises the importance of joint industry - government work at a national level. Officials in DG Sanco, the EU Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General, have obviously listened to our concerns in these areas" [11]

Founding Members

Affiliated Members

Signing Observers

Founding Observers

  • The Committee of the Regions
  • EU Member States
  • EEA/EFTA Member States



  1. ^ Eurocare Press Release - 7 June 2007 Eurocare and Members to join the EC's Alcohol and Health Forum Last Accessed 3rd July 2007
  2. ^ Eurocare Press Release - 7 June 2007 Eurocare and Members to join the EC's Alcohol and Health Forum Last Accessed 3rd July 2007
  3. ^ Euorpa Website 7th June 2007 European Commission, businesses and NGO's create Forum to battle alcohol-related harm Last Accessed 28th June 2007
  4. ^ European Public Health Alliance Website UPDATED The ’Alcohol Strategy’: a missed opportunity to protect health? Last Accessed 3rd July 2007
  5. ^ Global Alcohol Policy AllianceEU Alcohol Strategy - is the glass half full or half empty? Last Accessed 3rd July 2007
  6. ^ ibid (2)
  7. ^ Euroactiv Website European Spirits Organisation Press Release Last Accessed 3rd July 2007
  8. ^ Europa Website Public Health Last Accessed 28th June 2007
  9. ^ ibid (4)