Civil society decided to terminate its membership in the EU Alcohol and Health Forum (EAHF) after European Commissioner for Health Mr Andriukaitis announced the European Commission will not adopt a new and updated EU Alcohol Strategy.
Membership of the EAHF, which is chaired by DG Sante, comprises representatives of alcohol producers and advertisers, as well as alcohol industry front groups, along with public health NGOs. More than 20 civil society organizations, many of them public health bodies, have resigned from the EU Alcohol and Health Forum as the European Commission announced its refusal to heed calls from both EU member states as well s the European Parliament to adopt a new EU Alcohol Strategy. Among the organizations leaving the EAHF are Eurocare, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, EPHA, the European Public Health Alliance, and CPME, the Standing Committee of European Doctors.
They tendered their collective resignation in an open letter to Commissioner Andriukaitis. In the open letter civil society made their concerns public:
- The European Commission is ignoring calls from the European Parliament and Member States to develop a new EU Alcohol Strategy.
- The European Commission plans to include alcohol within a wider framework for tackling Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which would fail to address many harms caused by alcohol to those other than the alcohol user him/ herself – for instance alcohol-related gender-based violence.
- There is no evidence to show that the EU Alcohol and Health Forum has had any impact on the reduction and prevention of alcohol harm in Europe.
- The EAHF was established to support the implementation of the previous EU Alcohol Strategy, which ended in 2012. With no new Strategy planned, membership of the EAHF cannot be justified.
- Signatories also expressed disappointment that the European Commissioner had rejected requests for public health experts to have a formal structure to meet with Commission officials to discuss alcohol policy, free from vested interest groups.
Figures released show that close to 12 million people in the EU are dependent on alcohol. There are 9 million children of alcoholics in the EU. Alcohol harm burdens the European Union with costs of €156 billion every year.
For further reading #1: Maja’s Blog on “The EU We Want. The EU We Get”
For further reading #2: Kristina’s blog on “The EU A Bonanza For Big Alcohol“
Press release: NGOs Resign From EU Alcohol And Health Forum As Commission Ignores Member State And European Parliament Calls For Alcohol Strategy
Open letter: NGO coalition leaving the EAHF, to European Commissioner Andriukaitis
EAHF resignation briefing (PDF)