Scottish alcohol group resigns from European Commission forum over lack of strategy
European Commission accused of prioritising big business over alcohol
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), has today joined over 20 NGOs from across Europe in resigning from the EU Alcohol and Health Forum.
The move follows an announcement by Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis that there would be no new Europe-wide strategy on alcohol, something SHAAP and other public health bodies have been calling for since the last strategy expired in 2012.
In an open letter to the Commissioner, SHAAP and the other resigning NGOs noted their “deep concerns” about the neglect of public health and what they say is the prioritisation of alcohol industry interests.
Eric Carlin, Director of SHAAP, said: “We have been very active members of the EU Alcohol and Health Forum. However, there is no evidence to show the Forum has had any impact to date on public health, and with no new alcohol strategy planned, the Forum is meaningless.
“The European Commission needs to respond to demands of member states, the European Parliament and NGOs, rather than prioritising the needs of big business. Otherwise there is a real risk that the health gains we have been making in Scotland over the past few years in relation to reducing alcohol harms will be reversed.”
Scotland’s case for applying minimum unit pricing on alcohol sales is currently being challenged in Court of Justice of the European Union.
Yesterday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave a speech in Brussels in which she challenged the commission to back Scotland’s plans. "Some years ago, the Scottish Parliament voted to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol, to tackle alcohol harm in our society. Our ability to do that has been challenged, and is currently being considered by Scottish courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union," she said.
"We know from their support for our case that many other member states support us. My view is that the Commission and EU policy should recognise that. They should give a higher priority to enabling member states to take the decisions they deem necessary to protect life and promote health."
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