One of the key tenets of the manifesto that helped the Conservative party emerge victorious from the General Election was a promise to hold an “in-out” referendum on EU membership.
It could happen as early as next year, according to reports, as Cameron looks for what he terms a “better deal for the British people”.
Cameron appears to be able to put the democratic wheels in motion a lot quicker than the oft-criticised legislative behemoth that is the European parliament. A couple of weeks ago a resolution was passed to start work on an alcohol strategy for 2016-2022. This seems a little late
Especially when you realise that the EU hasn’t officially had a strategy since 2013, when the last seven-year plan ended. Did anyone notice?
The resolution on alcohol strategy notes that “alcohol misuse” had a social cost of more than €155bn in 2010. So it’s a huge issue. But one that’s being tackled with a mish-mash of frustratingly delayed reports and a clear lack of focus.
A key call in the resolution was for the introduction of calorie content information on all alcoholic beverages. This fits in with article 20 of the resolution, which states that “the new EU Alcohol Strategy should not set new targets, but support those already agreed as part of the World Health Organisation’s European action plan for 2012-2020 to reduce the harmful use of alcohol”.
So…there is already an action plan? What is a strategy if not an action plan?
Tackling the social harm caused by over-drinking is crucial. Trying to halt underage drinking or eliminating drink-driving are good for all of us. But it’s a big leap of imagination to equate calorie labelling to drink driving.
It’s a shame, because in parts there is sense. “A clear distinction between responsible and harmful alcohol consumption is needed; whereas responsible alcohol drinking is compatible with a healthy way of living,” it says.
Whether we want Europe telling us how to control our alcohol sales is a question worth putting in mind for Cameron’s referendum. But away from hugely muddled interference around strategies, plans and schemes, to hear senior elected officials putting faith in responsibility of consumers is cheering.