EU Alcohol Strategy to keep spotlight on marketing


Back to the overview
On 25 April the European Commission confirmed it would continue efforts under its 2006 Strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol related harm, and would improve it by drawing lessons from the forthcoming results of an external evaluation of the Strategy's success so far.

A core part of the Strategy is the European Alcohol and Health Forum, a multi-stakeholder platform created in 2007 which brings together policy makers, industry and NGOs to help take action to reduce harmful use of alcohol. More than 250 such voluntary “commitments” have been launched by Forum members to date. WFA is a founding member of the Forum and manages the main cross-industry advertising self-regulation commitment, the Responsible Marketing Pact.

The evaluation report of the EU Alcohol Strategy is scheduled to be published before the summer. It is expected to endorse the current strategy and to support the voluntary approach embodied in the Forum. However it is also expected to note that there has been no change in alcohol related harm and to highlight that alcohol consumption remains a major chronic diseases risk factor.

During a hearing of the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) of the European Parliament, several MEPs called on the Commission to review the EU Alcohol Strategy. They insisted that an update was needed to address new challenges such as new marketing and promotional strategies on the Internet and social media.

While the Commission does not intend to review the Strategy, it is expected to put more emphasis on the “impact” and “outcome” of voluntary actions taken by Forum members, including those on marketing self-regulation.

Alcohol marketing will therefore continue to be high on the agenda. The immediate focus will be on the measurement of minors' “exposure” to alcohol marketing. RAND (a non-profit institution) published a Commission-funded report that finds adolescents in the UK and the Netherlands were more likely than adults to be exposed to alcohol advertising on television.

WFA and industry partners have highlighted a number of fundamental flaws in RAND's methodology and have insisted that the correct way of measuring exposure would demonstrate that minors in fact see significantly fewer alcohol ads than adults.

On 25 April, the Commission acknowledged that this issue required further discussion and announced the creation of a working group gathering selected stakeholders from the industry and NGOs as well as external experts to develop an “accepted methodology” of measuring exposure to alcohol marketing. WFA will take part in the working group, which is expected to meet in the summer.

Sign up to monthly WFA news