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EU Council calls for an alcohol strategy

The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) welcomes the Council’s call for an EU Alcohol Strategy 2016-2022 on the 7th December 2015.

Director of IAS Katherine Brown says:

“Europe is the heaviest drinking region in the world, so it is vital the EU has a strategy that allows Member States to effectively tackle alcohol harm. There have been repeated calls for the Commission to produce an EU Alcohol Strategy, including from the Parliament, Member States and health bodies. Today’s call from the Council must be heeded. With alcohol harm costing societies in Europe €155,8 billion each year, we can’t afford for the Commission not to take action in this vital policy area.”

The Council calls on the European Commission to continue to support Member States in their efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm, while fully respecting the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality. It states that, by the end of 2016, a comprehensive EU strategy should be adopted with a cross-border dimension and an EU added value as a follow up to the first EU Alcohol Strategy (2006-2012) based on the work of the Committee of National Alcohol Policy and Action (CNAPA) as well as the WHO Global Strategy and WHO European Action Plan 2012-2020.

The Council Conclusions stress that harmful use of alcohol is recognised as an important risk factor in the need to reduce the burden of alcohol-related avoidable deaths, chronic diseases, injuries, violence, health inequalities and other social consequences to third parties. The Council emphasises that the reduction of alcohol-related harm requires action on policies across a range of sectors, both at national and at EU level.

The Council further invites Member States to promote a multi-sectoral approach and strengthen or develop comprehensive national strategies or action plans. The protection of young people from harmful use of alcohol is highlighted, notably in the field of legal drinking age and marketing exposure. Another issue addressed is the introduction of mandatory labelling of ingredients and nutritional values.

IAS is member of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare), an alliance that strongly supports a continuation of the efforts of the Union to address alcohol-related harm. Eurocare members, 60 organisations based across 25 European countries, see the news coming from the Council as very hopeful. The adoption of a new EU Alcohol Strategy would be of invaluable help to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm across Europe. Meanwhile, IAS and Eurocare continue to work collaboratively with the Commission, aiming at reducing alcohol-related harm at individual, community and population level.


The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met in Brussels 07.12.2015. One of the items for discussion is a call for a European response to tackle the cost of alcohol-related harm.

The full Council Conclusion can be accessed through this link: http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-14391-2015-INIT/en/pdf