Sunday

26th Mar 2017

Brussels says Europeans back anti-alcohol moves

Slightly more Europeans drink alcohol but in less amounts compared to 2003, according to a fresh survey by Eurobarometer, published on Wednesday (14 March).

Europe records the highest alcohol consumption in the world, with three quarters of respondents claiming to have drunk alcohol over the previous year while most Luxemburgers, Italians, Danes and Spaniards drank in the month prior to the survey.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Unlike three years ago, more people tend to have one to two, rather than more drinks in one sitting but the so-called binge drinking, defined in this case as five or more drinks - is practised by every fifth European youngster.

In terms of national differences, binge drinking is most common in Ireland (34%), Finland (24%), the UK (24%) and Denmark (23%), and least so in Italy (2%), Greece (2%) and Portugal (4%).

The survey also shows that most citizens (77%) agree with warnings on bottles for pregnant women and drivers, while 76 percent would like to see alcohol ads targeting young people banned.

Moreover, 73 percent of respondents approve of the introduction of a lower alcohol threshold for young and novice drivers and 80 percent think random alcohol testing would help in reducing cases of driving under the influence.

The European Commission is interpreting these findings as a sign of support for possible protective steps.

"It is evident from this survey that EU citizens support measures crafted to protect specific groups in society, such as pregnant women, drivers and young people from the harmful effects of alcohol abuse and misuse," said EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou.

However, when asked directly who should be responsible for protecting people from alcohol-related harm, respondents who think it should be individual citizens themselves (52%) outnumber those who argue it should be up to public authorities (44%).

Slovaks (75%), Czechs (70%) and Croats (70%) are the strongest supporters of the "individual responsibility" attitude, while Hungarians, Italians and Spaniards favour a more interventionist approach of the state for taking care of citizens' health.

Brussels forced to take it slowly on alcohol

The survey showing Europeans' attitudes on alcohol comes just months after the EU executive adopted its strategy on how to tackle alcohol-related harm which kills around 195,000 people a year in the EU.

Originally, it had planned to suggest more radical steps as found in some EU countries - such as a special tax or compulsory labelling for alcohol products popular among youngsters - as in Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg.

Other examples that Brussels highlighted and considered were special labels to protect pregnant women, imposing a minimum age of 18-years for being served alcohol, or possibly even a common limit for permitted levels of alcohol in the blood stream of drivers and stringent punishment for drivers under the influence.

However, following a loud outcry by the alcohol industry, the draft document was watered down with the commission leaving it up to national governments to decide which good examples in the EU to follow, while stating it would consult industry on "responsible" advertising and sale of alcohol.

MEPs set out to give posted workers equal pay

A revision of the posted workers directive aims to make the single market fairer, but critics see efforts to root out "social dumping" as disguised protectionism.

Dutch plan global fund for safe abortion

The Dutch want to lead efforts to make up the shortfall in aid for safe abortions around the world, after Donald Trump announced the US would not fund such projects.

EU to tighten rules on social benefits

EU citizens working away from their home countries will face tougher hurdles if they need to claim benefits, under plans from the commission.

Column / Health Matters

The yin and yang of Chinese medicine

Can traditional Chinese medicine help the modern European patient? Malta thinks so, in a new agreement with China.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  2. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  3. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  5. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  6. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  7. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  9. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  10. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  11. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change