The European Union acknowledges that alcoholic beverages constitute substantial economic goods and form an integral part of the culture of many European areas. The production, marketing and promotion of such beverages conduce towards economic growth in the EU. Nevertheless, effective policies combating alcoholism are imperative in order to tackle health-related problems, not to mention the required support and coordination, on the part of the European Union, of the effort of the member states to alleviate the impact of alcohol abuse.
Irresponsible alcohol consumption poses a threat to public health and a social problem for the whole European Union at the same time. Europe features high alcoholics’ rates, high per capita alcohol consumption, as well as a substantial number of health problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Irresponsible alcohol consumption is also to blame for a huge number of fatal traffic accidents in the EU, not to mention its severe social impact, expressed in the form of violence, hooliganism, crime, family problems, social exclusion, and its negative effect on labor productivity.
In order to cope with the concerns cited above, the European Commission has identified the following five (5) priorities applying to all member states, to which added value is offered upon completing national policies and coordinating national actions:
- Protection of young people, children and fetuses.
- Reduction of injuries and deaths in traffic accidents caused by alcohol consumption.
- Prevention of the damage caused by alcohol to adults and decrease in its negative impact in the workplace.
- Information, training and raising awareness concerning the impact of harmful and dangerous alcohol consumption on one hand and the suitable forms of alcohol consumption on the other.
- Developing and retaining a common documentation database to cover the EU as a whole.
The organizations of alcoholic beverages’ producers throughout Europe, of which the Greek Federation of Spirits Producers (SEAOP) is a member, are committed, in collaboration with the European Commission, to complying with three (3) main guidelines:
- Responsible marketing: Marketing Codes of Ethics are expected to come into force in 2010 in all the countries that are members of the European Spirits Organization (Spirits Europe), encompassing at least the principles laid down as part of the Common Standards for Commercial Communications endorsed by the European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD).
- Raising awareness among consumers: The producers of alcoholic beverages are committed to reminding consumers of responsible consumption, as well as the risks entailed in alcohol abuse.
- Reports: The European Spirits Organization drafts a documented progress report on an annual basis pertaining to the commitments undertaken by producers in each member state.