Building Capacity Project
Second Meeting of Alcohol Policy Network
Barcelona, Spain, 2 April 2008

Notes of the meeting

pdf icon small List of participants 
pdf icon small Program of the meeting

1. Welcome and introductions

Cees Goos, Chair of the Meeting, welcomed everyone and stressed the importance of the Meeting and of the following Conference in reaching the BCP main objective, to implement alcohol policy in the whole Europe region. He emphasised the role of both ministries, Catalonian and especially Slovenian which holds the EU presidency. As he stressed the importance of the Meeting in introducing what has been done on the BCP, where we stand with our BCP and what is yet to be done in order to follow the main goal of the BCP, he briefly went through the program of the meeting, noting that not all of the WP would be presented and discussed during the Meeting, and invited everyone to introduce themselves.

2. Work Package 5: Inventory of country based experiences

Claudia Knig of University of Bergen, Norway, presented the status of WP5 as to maintaining and extending a user-friendly Internet data base inventory of country experiences with alcohol policies, including country infrastructures, laws and regulations, experiences and practices (www.hp-source.net). The database has already been launched and the agreement of new data elements to collect has been achieved and the database web-side for data input has been finalised as well.  As she noted 23 countries out of 31 have updated the data as requested or are in the process of doing so, however 8 country partners have not given any feed-back about the status of their data update or have not yet entered any data. Possible restrictions or problems may be that data entry is too time-consuming or that the use of the online questionnaire is too difficult, and also that the resources are limited and that there are some technical difficulties.

As she introduced the preliminary analysis, using Spider diagrams to illustrate the data from 31 European countries about reaching the criteria  regarding 1) availability of key policy, infrastructure and programme elements for alcohol policy, 2) availability of key policy, infrastructure and programme elements to reduce the harm done by alcohol, 3) availability of national level policy documents in various alcohol policy areas  and 4) availability of national level documents on the prevention of the harm done by alcohol in various areas, she stressed the importance of further steps, which are to encourage and assist country partners to update the HP-Source, to further improve user-friendly data analysis and to continue and expand data analysis. With the latter C. Kønig emphasized the importance of reporting summarising collected data of infrastructure at European and country level (D9, M30) and of In-depht analysis of country level alcohol policy in 4 European countries (Germany, Italy, Norway and Slovenia) with expert interviews and national level alcohol policy documents in HP-Source.

3. Work Package 10: Prevention of alcohol-related accidents and injuries

On behalf of Andrej Marušič, Alenka Tančič of University of Primorska, Slovenia, introduced the work already done on all four main objectives of the WP10: 1. In preparing the »20 page report of the public health and economic importance of alcohol-related accidents and injuries, describing the evidence for the impact of effective policies and programmes; based on a systematic review of the published literature«  they have already completed the literature search and are now collecting the relevant articles; 2. In creating a »data base and inventory of examples of innovative and best practice and experience to reduce alcohol-related accidents and injuries, throughout the countries of Europe«, they have already scanned the collected articles in order to prepare a template to collect the examples; 3. In making »recommendations of a common set of methodologies and indicators that can be used throughout Europe to report on alcohol-related accidents and injuries; based on the reviews of the scientific literature, as well as existing indicators developed by the WHO and the European Commission«, they have already completed the literature search and are now collecting the relevant articles, and 4. In preparing a »3 page summary of practical recommendations as to what could be done at European and Member State level to reduce alcohol-related accidents and injuries« they have already prepared a first set of recommendations which will be an outcome of the Barcelona conference. as a part of the Conference The followingworkshops under »Preventing injuries and violence« will be held: »Preventing interpersonal violence and injuries«, »Alcohol in Traffic« and »Labbeling – no evidence=no impact? What can be achieved trough labelling: existing research and political context«.

4. Work Package 7: Building Capacity

Joan Colom of Government of Catalonia, Spain, thanked the Government of Slovenia and Ministry of Health for including the Conference in their presidency activities, gave thanks to the Institute of Public Health of the Republic of Slovenia for their coordination work on the Project and to all the APN members and BCP partners. He also gave a special thanks to other Joining forces. He stressed the importance of the main theme of the Conference as to building capacity on alcohol policies and programmes at European, country, regional and municipal levels to invest in the health of Europe’s citizens, and noted, that the Building capacity for action enjoys a benefit of high participation, since it is a presidency activity, which holds two roundtables on alcohol policy with high representatives of governments and WHO, EC, includes 4 plenary session (Building Capacity for Action, Alcohol and its health impact, Ethics and alcohol policy and Alcohol policy at EU level) and a Debate and dialogue with public health and industry sector representatives, with 27 invited speakers + moderator (Deborah Davies), 4 ministers (Spain, Slovenia, Estonia and Sweden), Mr. Danzon from WHO and Mr. Madelin from EC, 2 Regional Ministers, Federal Commissioner on Drugs of Germany and the Vice-president of the European Economic and Social Committee, and 352 participants from 34 countries; Building Capacity for action Conference includes 8 Strands, 24 Parallel Sessions, 57 Parallel Speakers, 18 Parallel chairs,13 Parallel rapporteurs and 8 Strand rapporteurs. Till now they have already succeeded in high participation at technical and political level, European Projects and Networks joining together, lot of sessions on building capacity for advocacy and action at local, regional, national and European Level. They also expect to achieve useful recommendations in coordination with or beyond the EC Communication on Alcohol and maybe to constitute a milestone in the alcohol policy development in Europe. There are also Alcohol Advocacy Courses planned for autumn this year (3 years 2008-2009-2010) and there will be a preparatory needs assessment meeting during the conference.

5. Work Package 8: Regional Alcohol Policy

Ourania Georgoutsakou of Assembly of European regions, France, reported on work of WP8, which focuses on regional alcohol policy development. As they have already built a network of seven regions working with peer reviews on different aspects of alcohol policy, the aim is to also invite all other still not included regions to participate in this networking and to show them how to be most effective. As to the question about feasibility of this aim, there is no problem since they will get in touch with regions.

6. Work Package 9: Municipal Alcohol Policy

Wim Van Dalen of National Fundation for Alcohol Prevention (STAP), Netherlands, stressed the connection between WP9 and WP8, that is alcohol policy on municipal and on regional level. He said there would be two presentations held during the Conference, one about what has already been achieved and the other about successfully transforming theory into effective practice regarding regional alcohol policy, and also several (cooperative) workshops, since finding the most effective practices on regional and municipal levels is the aim of the Conference. As to the question of other countries also implementing regional and municipal alcohol policy, there are four out of five countries presenting their experiences, mainly focusing on education, whereas the challenge now is to focus on strategy. 

7. Work Package 6: Economic and Health Impact Assessment 

Peter Anderson stressed that the problem with estimating cost effectiveness of different alcohol policies (e.g. taxation) in different countries is that there is no specific data which would give an accurate estimation. He emphasized that the goal of this WP is not only to provide each country with exact an methodology with all necessary available information, but to make sure that all information about alcohol assumption is up-to-date. WP6 is now waiting for this data which will represent a powerful argument regarding Alcohol Policy. As to the question of gathering data also from Switzerland, Iceland and Sweden as non-EU countries, P. Anderson noted that the aim is to include all 28 countries.

8. Work Package 4: Support to networking:

Rolf Hüllinghorst of DHS, Germany, introduced the activities of WP4 in broadening involvement and promoting active networking of a wide range partners in 2007/08 which are: Conferences and Meetings (First project meeting in Bled, Slovenia, Conference in Royal College of Physicians: Reducing The Harm Caused by Alcohol: A Co-ordinated European Response and European Alcohol Policy Conference),  Networking (Distribution of information by the Eurocare newsletter, Regular contact with the partners by email or telephone) and Country Visits (Development and distribution of the questionnaires, Analyses of the first data, Interviews with representatives and Preparations for meetings and national conferences). He also presented the first results: 1) Key points of the Conference Charter (Royal College of Physicians): Need for consensus around and effective communication of the various health risks associated with alcohol, -Need to balance the affordability of alcohol against health risks, a balance which will be different between member states, -Early intervention and effective treatment are both effective and cost effective and need to be more widely introduced, -Tighter regulation of the drinks industry throughout the supply chain, in particular far more effective protection of underage consumers from alcohol marketing and -Specific measures including harmonisation of drink driving legislation together  with effective enforcement; with that he emphasized the importance of connection between professionals, 2) Country Visits: National Conference on Alcohol in Bulgaria in June 2008, Advocacy Course after the National Conference in June 2008, Preparations for a meeting with Hungarian Public Health experts during 2008, Contact with APN members from Romania and Greece to negotiate and to plan further steps and 3) Cooperation: Enforcement of the cooperation with the consumer organisation CRIOC.

As the discussion opened, Cees Goos and Peter Anderson agreed that this WP and the work they have been doing is an example of how things work well when the WPL is really good. As to the question of how to connect the work of everyone so that all are involved as much as possible (vertical vs. horizontal connection), P. Anderson stressed there needed to be found a way in which new material would be available and a way to capitalize and utilize what has been done, politically as well. As there is BC home page, Marion Rackard reflected it would be sensible to at least also prepare a good document, in which the work of all WPs would be gathered and published together, as a manuals to guide people who work on this issue.

9. Update of administrative issues

Sandra Radoš Krnel of Institute of Public Health of the Republic of Slovenia (IVZ RS) thanked everyone for already received documentation that was needed to prepare the Grant Agreement, but noted that from some Associated Partners there are still missing the Letter of Agreement, Acknowledgment for Bled Meeting and Acknowledgment for Barcelona Meeting which are all crucial documents when reporting to the PHEA.  She stated the sponsors providing the External resources: ACTIS, Norway, IOGT-NTO, Sweden and Sosial–Og Hesledirektoratet, Sweden and drew attention to an Interim Report technical as implementation report and financial statement that has to be prepared by November 2008 and reported to the EC. According to that, the IVZ RS as a coordinator will send everyone a template for the expenses (together with instructions) besides timesheets. In case of any questions she invited everyone to contact the following addresses: sandra.rados@ivz-rs.si, tadeja.hocevar@ivz-rs.si, building.capacity@ivz-rs.si .

As to the question of subsistence costs, S. Radoš Krnel noted that the reimbursement that is due is limited (e.g. 15EUR per lunch).

10. Conclusions and recommendations (Overview and discussion of: Draft recommendations to reduce alcohol-related accidents, injuries, and inter-personal violence, Draft recommendations for alcohol policy and programme development and Draft conference conclusions)

Peter Anderson noted it is important to emphasize that the Conference is an activity of Slovene EU presidency and that there are ministers and other participants from all different kinds of countries with all different kinds of professional profiles, resenting GOs and NGOs. Hypothetically, Slovene Ministry could also inform other EU Ministries about the outcomes of this Conference. Accordingly, two papers of recommendation should be prepared: a) Recommendation on the Prevention of alcohol -related accidents and injuries and b) short Statement on policies about alcohol related harm, both modified according to the Conference. And an actual Conference Report should be prepared, with the gathered main messages from the Conference. As Lauri Beekman and Marion Rackard noted it would be easier to prepare the Report including main issues, key messages and conclusions capturing the main discussions of the Conference and main aims of the Conference with six to seven people who would report these key messages. This kind of a document would be very powerful.

Further Marion Rackard presented 6 facts/concluding messages and appropriate action: 

1) Alcohol causes a high level of harm; adding warning labels to alcohol containers which helps to establish a social understanding that alcohol is a special and hazardous commodity, 2) Young people are particularly vulnerable; reducing the exposure of alcohol advertising to young people, 3) Alcohol causes harm to people other than the drinker; a max BAC limit of 0.5 G/L eventually reduced to 0.2G/L, with a lower limit of 0.0 G/L for novice drivers and drivers of public service and heavy goods vehicles, 4) Government regulation needs to be strengthened; recommending that minimum tax rates should be at least proportional to the alcoholic content of all beverages that contain alcohol, and that the price of alcoholic beverages should be increased in line with inflation; 5) Help needs to be available for people with problems; investment in educational, financial and other support strategies and 6) Economic operators have their own responsibilities; alcoholic products should be marked to determine their origin and movement in trade. And 3 support statements: a) Greater investment needs to be given to European and country based non-governmental organizations  to give greater voice to civil society to support a cultural change to reduce the harm done by alcohol, b) Greater capacity needs to be built in Europe and country wide for greater collective and synergistic action to support the 2006 conclusions for sustained  actions to reduce alcohol-related harm and c) Greater support needs to be given to the development of global strategies to reduce the harmful use, recognizing  the global trade and marketing of alcoholic products,  the comity (committee?) of countries in relation to alcohol policy,  and the common need of collective action across borders.

The discussion stressed different issues: a need for more common language / the question of appropriate (understandable) language (representative from Romania), Wim Van Dalen from Netherlands noted that the message should include a clear statement of how to deal with this on different levels, governmental and lower, emphasized the importance of the role of the enforcements and of promoting alcohol-free environment for young people and also stressed the need to ameliorate the tax policy (e.g. tobacco taxes are much higher). Referring to the item 2) Alfred Uhl from Austria stressed that since this problem is affecting us all, it should be sensible not to focus solely on the younger population - the message should include all the others as well. As to the warning labels of item 1) Peter Anderson emphasized that knowing that warning labels will not change behaviour it is nevertheless a good way of sending the message that alcohol is not a rational luxury. Also Jacek Moskalewicz from Poland emphasized that warning labels can’t be the only strategy but one of more in trying to establish social understanding that alcohol causes a high level of harm. Referring to phraseology of the messages Wim Van Dalen stressed the importance of good monitoring in order to succeed in implementing alcohol policy. There was also stressed that besides the physical health in relation to alcohol drinking there should be message referring to mental health as well. J. Moskalewisz stressed that attention should be expanded from only medical to marketing strategies. Referring to that it was told that the project has to limit itself in order not to change its goals. Referring to the item 3) “Alcohol causes harm to people other than the drinker”, is has been stressed that the message should not include only minimizing the BAC limit but should be expanded to other ways also in which alcohol harms others. Referring to the item 5) “Help needs to be available for people with problems” it was agreed that the final support, dependant on family should be emphasized. Referring to the term “Economic operators” of item 6) which could be unclear Vesna Kerstin-Petrič of Ministry of Health, Slovenia, stressed that the term shouldn’t be sacrificed. As the message could be unclear, Peter Anderson noted it should be reframed regarding the responsibility of the industry. Then the question arose, whether it is really sensible to write a message in moral language referring to the industry or is it that the interests of the industry should be respected (Ourania Georgoutsakou), that the Industry is doing their job and that the job of Public Health Sector is to challenge that (Dag Rekve,WHO and P. Anderson) by sending the Recommendation to the government instead (Andrew McNeil) without sharing responsibility with the Industry and with monitoring and regulating the Industry (V. Kertin-Petrič). As there were dissenting opinions on making recommendation to the Industry (Alfred Uhl) or not (V. Kertin-Petrič), Peter Anderson suggested to come back to the issue on Friday with more time and Marion Rackard suggested that three or four people would have worked on the language/ clarity of the message(s).

Dag Rekve informed participants that they would have gotten a copy of Resolution for Global Strategy in May.

11. Plans for Stockholm meeting

Sven-Olov Carlsson of IOGT-NTO, Sweden, introduced the plans for Stockholm APN Meeting, which will be held from 9-12 June 2009 during the Sweden EU presidency. Peter Anderson noted that agenda issues should already be taken in consideration.

12. Close of the Meeting

The Chair Cees Goos thanked all and wished all a good time at the Conference.

Barcelona, May 2008

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