Public Health NGOs resign from EU Alcohol and Health Forum

3 June 2015: Public Health NGOs, several of which are members of the Alcohol Health Alliance, have resigned from the EU Alcohol and Health Forum, following the announcement by Commissioner Andriukaitis that he has no plans to establish a new EU Alcohol Strategy. The Commissioner’s decision goes against demands from Member States and the European Parliament for a new comprehensive Strategy to tackle alcohol harm in Europe. The previous EU Alcohol Strategy expired in 2012, since then there have been many calls by member states, NGOs and industry representatives for its replacement.

Signatories to an open letter outlined their “deep concerns” about the neglect of public health and the prioritisation of alcohol industry interests. These include:

  •  The Commission is ignoring calls from the European Parliament and Member States to develop a new EU Alcohol Strategy
  • The Commission plans to include alcohol within a wider framework for tackling chronic disease, which would fail to address many harms caused by alcohol to those other than the drinker, such as drink driving, domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation
  • There is no evidence to show that the EU Alcohol and Health Forum has had any impact on public health
  • The Forum was established to support the implementation of the previous EU Alcohol Strategy, which ended in 2012. With no new Strategy planned, membership of the Forum cannot be justified.

Signatories also expressed disappointment that the 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.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the EU Alcohol and Health Forum’s Science Group said,

“This is a sad day for those who care about health in Europe. The Commission’s prioritisation of alcohol industry interests over public health has been laid bare. Many NGOs have participated actively and in good faith in the EU Alcohol and Health Form, in the hope of making progress and reducing alcohol harm. However, with no evidence to indicate the Forum has achieved any meaningful results, and no promise of a new Alcohol Strategy, we see no alternative to walking away from this failing organisation”.

More information can be found here.