European Parliament votes against Lulling report on minimum excise duties on alcohol
Eurocare welcomes the results of the voting in the European Parliament on the minimum excise duties
Brussels, 23 May 2007. The Members of the European Parliament have today voted against the adoption of the report prepared by the vice-chairman of the Beer group in the European Parliament, the MEP from Luxembourg, Ms Astrid Lulling, on minimum excise duties on alcohol.
Eurocare welcomes the results of this voting against this proposal that serves the interests of the alcohol industry at the expense of the interests of the health and social wellbeing of European citizens.
The report prepared by Ms Astrid Lulling, contained two major proposals that where of great concern to the health NGOs, namely;
By treating alcohol merely as a product that is traded the report ignored the fact that alcohol is responsible for 7,4% of all ill-health and premature death, is the cause of some 60 diseases and conditions; and it is also a key cause of harm to people other than the drinker, including crime, violence and injuries, and therefore should not be regarded simply as an ordinary commodity.
Andrew McNeil, Honorary Secretary of Eurocare, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, welcomed the results of the voting and said that “by treating alcohol as an ordinary economic commodity the proposal from Ms Lulling failed to incorporate health concerns and therefore breached the Treaty's obligation to ensure a high level of human health protection in the definition and implementation of all Community policies and activities”. McNeil added that “evidence shows that price and tax measures are an effective policy option in reducing the harm done by alcohol and young people are particularly sensitive to price. Member States who have adopted high excise duties, have done so in the interest of public health rather than economic benefit. The measures proposed in the Lulling report would only penalize and increase the pressure on those Member States that have chosen to regulate alcohol taxes as a means of protecting citizen welfare.”
Socialist spokeswoman on the report, Donata Gottardi: "alcohol consumption can be affected by the rate of excise duties and for many governments in Europe, the fact that they are mandatory is a key element of health policy".
Several studies have demonstrated that price and tax measures are an effective policy option in reducing the harm done by alcohol and that young people are particularly sensitive to price. Policies that increase alcohol taxes and prices have been shown to reduce the proportion of young people who are heavy drinkers, to reduce underage drinking, to reduce per occasion binge drinking. They also delay intentions among younger teenagers to start drinking and slow progression towards drinking larger amounts. Heavy drinkers are also very sensitive to increases in prices.
Research also shows that such measures lead to reductions in deaths from liver cirrhosis, fatality rates from traffic crashes, and reduced rates of crime, including assault, violence related injury, homicide, family violence, and child abuse and other violence towards children.
Imposing taxes on alcohol also helps governments to meet the fiscal costs of alcohol related harm, it is a way of ‘internalising' these costs to the sellers and drinkers in proportion to the alcohol consumed, rather than being met by all taxpayers.
Notes to the editors:
(COM(2006)0486 – C6-0319/2006 – 2006/0165(CNS))
2.-EUROCARE is an alliance of 45 voluntary and non-governmental organisations from all over Europe dedicated to promote the prevention and reduction of alcohol related harm in Europe.