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The role of the EU Parliament elections in shaping alcohol and public health policies


EU Parliament elections 2024

31.05.2024 - As the 2024 EU Parliament elections approach, various organizations emphasize the importance of strong public health policies, including those related to alcohol consumption. While alcohol policy is not the most prominent issue in these elections, it remains a significant area where EU policies can impact public health. Here’s how different organizations view the influence of these elections on alcohol-related issues.


EPHA’s priorities

The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) highlights the necessity of maintaining health as a top priority on the EU political agenda. EPHA advocates for a comprehensive European Alcohol Strategy, as recommended in the 2021 Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. This strategy should include restrictions on alcohol advertising to minors, mandatory health warnings on labels, and the listing of ingredients and nutritional information on all alcoholic beverages. Such measures aim to reduce alcohol-related harm, promote public health, and ensure that vulnerable and marginalized groups are protected from aggressive marketing practices.


EASL’s Call to Action

The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) calls for accelerated public health policies to reduce the burden of liver diseases, particularly alcohol-related liver disease (ArLD). EASL highlights that nearly half of all liver disease deaths in Europe are due to alcohol consumption. They recommend introducing a minimum unit price (MUP) on alcohol products, increasing excise duties indexed to inflation, and banning alcohol marketing and sponsorships. EASL stresses the economic benefits of these interventions, noting that for every €1 invested in reducing alcohol consumption, up to €16 can be returned in economic benefits. These measures are crucial to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with alcohol-related liver disease.


Finnish health organizations’ joint statement

Finnish health organizations underscore the need for integrating health and sustainability in political decision-making, particularly in the context of the EU elections. They stress the importance of policies that enhance human well-being and environmental sustainability. While the statement does not explicitly focus on alcohol policies, it highlights the necessity of effective public health policies to mitigate various health risks.


IOGT-NTO’s priorities

IOGT-NTO emphasizes the relevance of alcohol policy in the upcoming elections, advocating for clear health warnings on alcoholic products and a society free from alcohol marketing. They stress that EU politicians are often influenced by alcohol lobbyists and call for elected officials to prioritize public health over industry interests. IOGT-NTO also advocates for effective alcohol taxation policies and the defense of Sweden’s alcohol monopoly, Systembolaget, which they argue is crucial for public health. They call for higher standards to counter lobbying from harmful industries, ensuring that public health interests prevail.


UNF’s EU campaign

Swedish youth organisation UNF emphasizes the need for transparency regarding alcohol industry lobbying and advocates for health warning labels on alcohol products. They highlight the effectiveness of such warnings in reducing smoking rates and urge the EU to stop subsidizing alcohol production through agricultural funding. By promoting these changes, UNF aims to ensure that EU policies better serve public health interests.


Cancerfonden’s EU Parliament elections priorities

Cancerfonden underscores the importance of continuing to prioritize cancer issues within the EU, particularly through Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. They emphasize the need for common regulations in prevention, including warning labels on alcohol products and restricting alcohol marketing. By implementing these preventative measures, Cancerfonden believes fewer people will develop cancer, contributing to a healthier population and highlighting the critical role of EU policies in public health.


Conclusion

While alcohol policy is not the foremost issue in the 2024 EU Parliament elections, it is a significant component of broader public health strategies advocated by various organizations. These elections present an opportunity to influence policies that can mitigate alcohol-related harms and improve overall public health. By supporting comprehensive strategies and prioritizing public health over industry interests, elected representatives can help ensure a healthier future for Europeans.


 

Takeaway Messages

  • EPHA: Advocates for a comprehensive European Alcohol Strategy, including restrictions on advertising to minors, health warnings on labels, and nutritional information on alcoholic beverages.

  • EASL: Calls for a minimum unit price on alcohol, increased excise duties, and a ban on alcohol marketing and sponsorships to reduce alcohol-related liver disease.

  • Finnish Health Organizations: Emphasize the integration of health and sustainability in political decision-making, highlighting the need for effective public health policies.

  • IOGT-NTO: Stresses the need for clear health warnings on alcohol products, a ban on alcohol marketing, effective alcohol taxation policies, and protection of Sweden’s alcohol monopoly.

  • UNF: Emphasizes transparency in alcohol industry lobbying, health warning labels on alcohol products, and the cessation of agricultural subsidies for alcohol production.

  • Cancerfonden: Supports common regulations for cancer prevention, including warning labels on alcohol products and restrictions on alcohol marketing as part of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.

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