Resolution on Alcohol12.02.2014
On Wednesday, 12 February 2014, members of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) in European Parliament considered the Resolution on the European Strategy on Alcohol and addressed a question to the European Commission about which measures concerning alcohol they are planning at the European level.
Dr Romana Jordan, who participated as co-sponsor of the mentioned Resolution and parliamentary question, said:
"Citizens of the European region consume the most alcohol per capita in the world, and Slovenia is no exception. The European Commission has no competence in create a European Health Policy, but has the task of coordinating and complementing national policies in this field. It was only in 2006 that the European strategy on alcohol was created, and it expired in 2012. The Strategy provided some priorities and measures, such as protection of young and unborn children, reduction of the number of accidents associated with driving under the influence of alcohol, negative impact on jobs and reduction of the cost of medical treatments. Raising awareness of the consequences of harmful use of alcohol and management of a common European database which allowed us to know where policies were successful, played an important role in the old Strategy on alcohol. The Commission has announced that an Action Plan on Alcohol will be published this year. I strongly support this because we need, apart from having a strategic document, a clear view on how we can implement the strategy. The Action Plan will be composed of means of implementation and needs to be prepared by the Commission as soon as possible. The Resolution of the European parliament is calling on the European Commission to prepare the Action plan no later than September. In addition, we have addressed a question to the Commission on whether she considers that the Strategy on Alcohol from 2006 is still valid, whether the Commission is collecting information and what measures are still needed in this area.
I think it is high time to invite the Commission to draw up a new strategy on alcohol. The European Union is facing new circumstances of crisis, which affects the behavior of people and also increased alcohol consumption. Young people are a very vulnerable group, especially in the Central European region, which includes Slovenia, where the trend of binge drinking is on the rise, so we must act. It is important to raise awareness, explain to young people that drinking is not just something that affects them in the present time, but has long-term impacts on the development of acute illnesses such as liver disease, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer. It is also about promoting a healthy lifestyle, physical activity, life connected with nature and healthy eating habits. But, unfortunately, no effect can be achieved without sanctions, so we point to policies that reduce access to alcohol, and limit advertising to minors.
Finally, let me add that I support the efforts to establish an appropriate drinking culture, which is part of a healthy lifestyle. It is necessary to distinguish between drinking a glass of wine at lunch, and harming himself or herself and society with excessive use of alcohol."
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Report on the situation in the field of alcohol and health in 35 European countries in 2013 points out that residents of the European region consume the most alcohol per capita in the world. Harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption has a major impact on public health and also generates costs related to health care, health insurance, law enforcement, public policy and workplaces, and thus has a negative impact on the economic development and on society as a whole. One of the main causes of premature death and chronic diseases is harmful alcohol consumption, which can be avoided. It is estimated that the associated costs in the EU amount to 125 billion Eur. Drinking patterns vary in different Member States, but everywhere there is a growing trend of binge drinking by minors.
In 2006 the European Commission adopted the "EU Strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol-related harm ". The strategy sets out actions until the year 2012 which would support and strengthen reducing alcohol-related harm.
The strategy sets out five priority actions and relevant good practices:
- Protection of young people, children and unborn children;
- Reduction of injuries and deaths from traffic accidents related to alcohol consumption;
- Prevention of alcohol-related harm among adults and reduction of negative impact on jobs ;
- Information, education and raising awareness on the impact of harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption, and on appropriate consumption patterns ;
- Development, support and maintainance of a common database.
The Strategy foresees three levels of action : (1 ) measures imposed by the European Commission , ( 2 ) measures taken by Member States at national and local levels , and ( 3 ) coordination of actions at the EU level (establishment of the Forum on Alcohol and health to adopt measures on driving under the influence of alcohol and on alcohol advertising ) .
Further steps - procedure in the European Parliament:
The responsible Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI ) in the European Parliament prepared a Resolution on Alcohol Strategy and an Oral Question to the Commission. The deadline for amendments is 17 February 2014, a vote in ENVI will take place on 6 March 2014. The final Resolution will be voted at the plenary session in April 2014.