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Building Capacity Project - Rationale

Rationale and relative merits of the project

With the highest alcohol consumption in the world, alcohol is a cause of 7.4% of the total disease burden to the European Union, at a cost of some €125 billion each year (i) . Alcohol is of particular burden to young people, with alcohol consumption increasing amongst adolescents, and being responsible for over 25% of all deaths amongst young men dying between the ages of 15 and 29 years.

In June 2001, the Council of the European Union, in its Conclusions on a Community strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm, emphasized that a high level of human health protection should be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Community policies and activities, and recognized that alcohol use is one of the key health determinants in the European Community. The Council stressed the desirability of developing a comprehensive Community strategy aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm comprising, in particular, an effective monitoring system on alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm, and policy measures and their effects in the European Community; and a coordinated range of Community activities in fields such as research, consumer protection, transport, advertising, marketing, sponsoring, excise duties and other internal market issues, while fully respecting Member States' competencies. The Council invited the Commission to put forward proposals for a comprehensive Community strategy aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm, to complement national policies and with a timetable for action. The Council reiterated its call for a Community strategy in 2004, with the Communication launched during November 2006.

Within a broader background, the European Region of the World Health Organization, launched its framework for alcohol policy for strategic guidance and policy options for Member States in 2005, and the World Health Assembly passed Resolution WHA58.26 in 2005 on the public health problems caused by harmful use of alcohol.

The project is needed to mobilize support at the European, country, regional and municipal levels, throughout a range of sectors and disciplines to support the implementation of the Commission’s Communication on alcohol, by building capacity and broad coalitions for effective implementation of evidence based policy throughout Europe, stressing the need to provide evidence, to raise awareness of the impact of alcohol, to protect third parties, to combat drink driving, to protect young people and to prevent alcohol-related harm among adults.

The project provides added value at the European level, will give special attention to young people, fully matches the objectives of the EC public health programme, has full geographical coverage, involving all Member States, accession countries and three EFTA countries, and has an appropriate and adequate budget to fulfil its objectives.


(i) Anderson & Baumberg 2006: Alcohol in Europe: a public health perspective