Estonia

NordAN urge governments to cooperate on alcohol policy

The situation around cross-border trade in the Nordic and Baltic region is creating worrying developments which caused NordAN to send an open letter to the ministers and party leaders of Finland, Estonia and Latvia, as well as to the media in the region.

The Estonian Government has decided to decrease alcohol excise duties by 25%, and the Latvian Finance Minister Jānis Reirs is planning next week to assess the issue and discuss possible tax cuts in Latvia as well, to “maintain competitiveness at a regional level”. Finland’s Government is now also under pressure to react accordingly.

NordAN´s letter expressed concern “about a “race to the bottom” in alcohol policy that threatens the public health of our citizens. Price competitiveness seems to cloud the primary goal of alcohol policy, which should always be the health and well-being of people.”

NordAN strongly urge the governments to meet, bringing both health and tax expertise to the table to discuss a coordinated response to the issues that have arisen.

“As we see from the current situation, it encourages countries to compete against each other, even though these countries have promised to cooperate in protecting our citizens.”

The letter then reminded that the governments have signed different agreements to strengthen cooperation on this matter. The health ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, signed a Memorandum of Intent on cooperation in reducing alcohol consumption, smoking and tackling morbidity trends related to nutrition in November 2017. In December 2017, with the leadership of the Estonian EU presidency, council conclusions were adopted on cross-border aspects in alcohol policy – tackling harmful use of alcohol. And in October 2018 37th Session of the Baltic Assembly adopted a resolution in regard to the cooperation in the field of reduction of alcohol consumption.

NordAN calls on the governments to push for the revision of EU rules for private import of alcoholic beverages. This revision should give Member States flexibility to lower the current indicative guide levels for alcohol and set absolute limits.

Find the letter HERE