News from Eurocare´s General Assembly

European Alcohol Policy Alliance Eurocare held its General Assembly meeting last week (June 4-5) in Brussels looking back at 2013 and having a board elections.

„The key message from Eurocare in 2013 was the need for a renewal of the EU Alcohol Strategy. Eurocare is working closely with the European Parliament in search of support for this goal. Towards the end of the year the European Commission finally committed to draft a European Alcohol Action Plan. Eurocare launched its „Eurocare – Initial NGO recommendations for the new EU Action Plan on Alcohol“ in a meeting with commissioner Borg. We were delighted to receive such a broad support from both National and European NGOs,“ wrote Eurocare president Tiziana Codenotti and Secretary General Mariann Skar in their annual report message.

NordAN and Eurocare have always had close ties and a healthy cooperation. NordAN is a member of Eurocare and several NordAN board members as well as member organisations representatives were also present. NordAN board member from Denmark, Johan Damgaard Jensen, director of Alcohol and Society was elected to chair the General Assembly meeting.

As three years since the last elections has passed, one task of the GA was also to elect new board. In the new board are also Kristiina Hannula (from EHYT, Finland), Stig Erik Sjorhaim (Actis, Norway) who are all also board members of NordAN and Lauri Beekmann (NordAN and Estonian Temperance Union). During the GA new board had its first meeting and new officials were appointed. Tiziana Codenotti was re-elected as the president of Eurocare, Lauri Beekmann as the vice-president and Sven-Olav Carlsson as a treasurer.

After the official business meeting several presentation were given focusing on alcohol policy in Europe. Eurocare´s policy officer Aleksandra Kaczmarek gave an overview of the recent European Parliament Elecections and the exercise that Eurocare, with the support of its several member organisations, did. Response rate to the questionnaires was disappointingly low. One of the few responses that Eurocare got was from the office of European Socialists and Democrats. “We can assure you that the EU Alcohol Strategy remains high on the political agenda of Mr Schulz, The European Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and more generally our political family. We firmly believe that the European Commission, working alongside the Council and EU Member States, must renew its political commitment to increase its efforts to provide a solid, evidence-based policy response to adequately meet the challenges of the severe and diverse health and socio-economic impacts of alcohol related harm.”

Ms Kaczmarek informed that during summer months political groups are formed in the EU Parliament. In July MEP-s have their first session and EP presidents and vice-presidents are elected. At a session on July 14-17 Commission president will be elected. In September and October hearings of the commissioners will be held.

Attila Balogh from DG SANCO said that he, or anyone for that matter, cant promise at the moment that there will be a new EU Alcohol Strategy as the commissioners are not yet elected. He stressed the importance of Eurocares work and encouraged to “push” the Commission to stay on course with alcohol policy.

Eurocares next General Assembly will be held on June 2-3, 2015 in London at the Institute of Alcohol Studies building.