EU prepares new rules on alcohol

Here alcohol is again under attack for its effects on health. This time by a committee of the European Parliament that links it to more cancers. In response, proposals to limit consumer choice are multiplying…

Within the European Parliament’s ‘Commission for Cancer Control’ (BECA), legislators are responsible for preparing reports that will be included in the European Commission’s ‘European Cancer Control Plan’. In essence, the aim of the European Union (EU) is to fight so-called non-communicable diseases, i.e. cancers that could be avoided if we led a healthier lifestyle.

Their first target? Alcohol.

Indeed, according to MEP Véronique Trillet-Lenoir’s (La République En Marche) first report, alcohol is responsible for 10% of cancers in men and 3% in women. Thus, its findings and recommendations support the Commission’s goals of reducing alcohol consumption by 10% by 2025.

Fight alcohol abuse or simple consumption?

However, some of the proposed measures were rejected by the European People’s Party (EPP, centre-right) in the European Parliament. The position of the majority party is that the EU should not stigmatize drinking in general, but should emphasize the abuse of alcohol.

“Although excessive drinking is certainly a health risk, appropriate and proportionate measures must be taken that do not stigmatize this important sector of the economy, which is part of our way of life,” explained Natalie Colin-Osterle, Member of the European Parliament for the European Party (Les Centristes). and Vice President of the BECA Commission.

One measure proposed by the European Parliament is the placement of warning labels on wine bottles, which have so far been spared the labels like those on cigarette packs.

This may change soon as lawmakers are already debating the wording of the label, not just the need for a warning label per se. Will the label say “any alcohol consumption can lead to cancer” or “too much alcohol can lead to cancer”? Will this be illustrated by a photograph of a damaged liver? In any case, the old tradition of wine labels will be mutilated.

In 2023, the European Commission will also come up with proposals to reduce the availability and affordability of alcohol, which means taxes on beer and spirits are likely to be much higher.

In addition, the EU will submit proposals to ban alcohol advertising at sporting events. The offer was later softened to “sponsorship of sporting events for minors”. A very vague expression… All sports that minors enjoy (and which don’t?) can fall into this category.

In particular, such a ban could hit hard sports that rely heavily on sponsorship, such as football. Left-wing Brussels MPs and environmentalists have opposed any change to existing proposals, arguing that there is no safe drinking of alcohol.

Single price…and more

One proposal that could be made at the level of the European Union, not least because it already exists in countries such as Scotland and Ireland, is a minimum price for alcohol. In essence, this model sets a minimum price per unit of alcohol and raises the price of alcohol in general.

The fact that even the Scottish government health authorities, after reviewing the measure, found that it had no effect on alcohol-related deaths or illnesses is unlikely to impress anyone in Brussels. Public Health Scotland also states in its finding that the minimum price of alcohol is believed to have affected non-alcohol crimes as gangs take advantage of lower alcohol prices to sell illegal drinks.

In fact, let me make a bold prediction: the EU will not only impose a minimum price on alcohol, but will gradually increase it over time. Why ? Every time a study shows a measure doesn’t work, the smart bureaucrat in Brussels concludes that the problem wasn’t the measure’s ineffectiveness, but that the prices were simply not high enough.

In addition to the alcohol rules it is due to introduce next year, the EU will publish binding targets for an overall reduction in alcohol consumption. This means that Member States will have to find additional measures to reduce alcohol consumption or they risk being criticized by the European Commission for not doing enough.

France has been the queen of bad ideas in this regard. It could mean a ban Happy hoursrestrict bar opening hours, raise the drinking age or even create state-owned and controlled liquor stores, as is already the case in Northern Europe.

All these measures will excite criminals like Al Capone. What we are currently doing in Europe is introducing a quasi-ban on alcohol, in which low-income people will no longer be able to purchase alcohol legally. Therefore, they could go to System D and make their own alcoholic drinks or get them by any illegal means with all possible side effects.

It seems we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past in lifestyle regulation. It’s so depressing that … you want to drink.