Key issues in alcohol policy at EU level

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Presentation outlining some of the aspects of alcohol policy at European level and the potential winners and losers in the new EU Alcohol and Health Strategy

Presentation outlining some of the aspects of alcohol policy at European level and the potential winners and losers in the new EU Alcohol and Health Strategy

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  • 1. Creating the vision for future alcohol policy
    • Tamsin Rose
    • Tampere, 21 November 2007
    Brussels airport welcomes you with a large beer advert 1 September 2007, No alcohol sales day in Lithuania
  • 2. From the Strategy to the Forum
    • October 2006, Commission adopts Strategy on Alcohol and Health. Priorities are to:
      • protect young people and children and the unborn child;
      • reduce injuries and deaths from alcohol-related road accidents;
      • prevent harm among adults and reduce the negative impact on the workplace;
      • raise awareness of the impact on health of harmful alcohol consumption; and on appropriate consumption patterns
      • a common evidence base at EU level
    • In June 2007, Alcohol and Health Forum launched.
  • 3. Potential gains
    • Public commitments towards taking action to reduce alcohol related harm by a range of producers, retailers and media organisations.
    • (Self) monitoring and reporting of commitments
    • Independent Scientific Committee to review the evidence base of intervention
    • Opportunity to challenge the relevance of industry activities
    • Opportunity to publicly report violations of marketing and advertising codes
  • 4. Potential risks
    • An ongoing and increasing time investment needed to participate in the Forum
    • Embeds alcohol industry in EU health debate
    • Inequalities of input (resources, time), power or access
    • Industry gets to choose what action to take
    • Member States ‘encouraged’ to adopt similar approach by bringing industry into the debate
    • Drinks industry ‘named and praised’, get visibility and recognition for their efforts
    • NGO actions - being neither new, innovative or large-scale are ignored
  • 5. Are there winners and losers? Finally, an EU alcohol strategy - but limited in scope and rests largely on Member State activities. Alcohol is firmly on the EU policy agenda - but binding legislation is off the agenda. The Forum will NOT be the place for policy discussions but both NGOs and industry seek such policy dialogue. Where will this happen? Industry has to pay the Forum ‘entry price’ of concrete action in order to have take part and get access to DG SANCO. But NGOs face the same barriers and requirements as industry. There is no attempt or requirement to create balance in numbers of NGO/industry.
  • 6. In whose interest?
    • The purpose of a business is to provide a return on capital for shareholders. This can be done by
      • Increasing sales (gain market share)
      • Improving profitability (decrease transaction costs)
    • Under company law, Directors are required to act in the the best interest of shareholders. They are accountable to the shareholders and direct benefits of the business return to shareholders.
    • Companies are responsive to consumers only as a means of maximising return for shareholders (more sales at less transaction cost). Any ‘rights’ that consumers may have are defined, protected and enforced through government regulation.
  • 7. Europe’s most exclusive beer club
    • The European Parliament Beer Club, formed in 1995. > 170 MEP members … biggest group of its kind at the European Parliament.
    • Members believe that Europe should have and retain a strong brewing sector and support the positive aspects of beer culture .
    • The Beer Club organises major symposiums on beer and health and meetings and seminars with MEPs and representatives from The Brewers of Europe - on issues such as the excise rates review and the EU Communication on alcohol and health.
    • Source: Beer Club website
  • 8.
    • Finnish Presidency beer reception in the European Parliament, 2006
    • Will the next photos show the Swedish Presidency of 2009?
    Official policy? The European Parliament Beer Club run by the Brewers of Europe
  • 9. Retailing - the non Nordic way ! In-store tastings Sales promotions - reductions or gifts for multiple purchases Point of sale - allocation of prime shelf space Vending machines
  • 10. What is the big deal about labels?
    • Full list of ingredients or just allergy producing substances?
    • Health warnings or moderate consumption messages?
    • Impact?
  • 11. Key learning points
    • Alcohol is a European issue in terms of production, marketing, promotion, taxation, trade and health impacts
    • Enlargement has brought diversity in terms of drinking patterns but also increased the number of low-tax, alcohol producers... This is likely to continue (Croatia, Macedonia).
    • The alcohol industry is active in Brussels and seeking economic allies. It is seeking to position itself as a health stakeholder.
  • 12. DG SANCO view of 2009-2014
    • Four key drivers of change:
    • Governance : accountability with delivery in a multi-level world
    • Consumer Confidence : communicating knowledge, risk and science with citizens
    • Globalisation : multiple divides in an information driven context
    • Changing society : influencing standards and managing risks from the outside
  • 13. Taking back the streets
  • 14. But it is a constant battle
  • 15. Is this the government role?
  • 16. Mixed messages Heidelberg Project, a 4 block area of Detroit with outdoor artwork by artist Tyree Guyton and local children
  • 17. Re-focus on the basics
    • What do you want to achieve on alcohol policy?
    • What has to happen to deliver your vision?
    • What, if any, role could the alcohol producers play?
    • What, if any, role could alcohol retailers play?
    • What, if any, role could the advertisers play?
    • What, if any, role could health professionals play?
    • What if any, role could health NGOs play?