Tag Archives: European strategy

European strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm

European strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Public health > Health determinants: lifestyle

European strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 24 October 2006, “An EU strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol-related harm” [COM(2006) 625 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This strategy specifically targets the harmful and hazardous effects of alcohol consumption rather than the product itself. The objective is to reduce the damage caused by this kind of alcohol consumption, both in terms of health and the economic and social impact.

Five priorities

The strategy sets out five priorities with a view to reducing the harmful and hazardous effects of alcohol consumption in the European Union. For each of these it explains the rationale for action and highlights the good practices implemented by the Member States.

Protecting young people and children

Three aims will be pursued:

  • to curb underage drinking and reduce hazardous drinking among young people;
  • to reduce the harm suffered by children in families with alcohol-related problems;
  • to reduce exposure to alcohol during pregnancy.

Harmful alcohol consumption among young people can be effectively addressed by means of public policy. Examples of measures implemented by Member States are: restrictions on sales, availability and marketing which is considered likely to influence young people.

The alcoholic beverage industry and retailers can play an important role in this area.

Preventing drink-driving

Approximately one road accident in four is caused by alcohol. For young people, traffic accidents are the most common cause of death.

The risk of alcohol-related road traffic accidents increases in line with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the driver. For this reason, all Member States have taken measures to introduce BAC limits. Examples of good practices include the enforcement of frequent random breath testing, supported by education and awareness campaigns. Another example is the introduction of a lower or zero BAC limit for young drivers and also for public transport drivers and drivers of commercial vehicles.

Reducing alcohol-related harm among adults

The aims of the strategy are to:

  • decrease alcohol-related chronic physical and mental disorders;
  • decrease the number of alcohol-related deaths;
  • provide information to consumers so that they can make informed choices;
  • contribute to the reduction of alcohol-related harm at the workplace.

Harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption is one of the main causes of premature death among adults and also has a negative impact on worker productivity (e.g. through absenteeism).

A number of measures can prevent alcohol-related harm among adults and reduce the negative impacts in the workplace, including licence enforcement, server training, workplace-based interventions and campaigns promoting moderate consumption.

Raising awareness

The strategy is intended to raise awareness among EU citizens of the impacts of harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption on health, fitness for work and driving performance.

Measures which can achieve this objective include broad-based health education programmes, beginning in early childhood and ideally continuing throughout adolescence. This type of intervention can raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol and limit risk-inducing behaviour. Media campaigns, such as the Euro-Bob initiative aimed at preventing drink-driving, can also be used to this end.

Collecting reliable data

The Commission will compile and update statistics on alcohol consumption and on the impact of policy measures. The data will then be used to draw up and implement measures to tackle the effects of harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption.

Levels of action

National action

Alcohol is essentially an issue for the Member States and to be dealt with within the remit of their national policies. Most of them have put in place legislation and policies related to alcohol abuse. Moreover, in 2005, fifteen Member States reported that they had adopted national action plans, or had set up bodies for coordinating alcohol policy.

The range of measures implemented by Member States is very wide and includes initiatives such as education, information, traffic controls, the introduction of blood alcohol concentration limits, licences for selling alcoholic beverages and the setting of alcohol taxation levels.

Action by the European Commission

The Community’s role in this strategy is to complement Member States’ efforts, add value to their actions and deal with common issues that Member States cannot handle on their own.

Notably the Commission will take action by applying two Community programmes:

  • the Community action programme on public health (2007-2013);
  • the 7th Research Framework Programme (2007-2013), in particular under the Health theme of the proposed Specific Programme on “Cooperation”.

Coordination of actions at EU level

The Commission will seek to improve coherence between all policies that have an impact on action taken in relation to alcohol. It also intends to set up an Alcohol and Health Forum by June 2007, which will bring together experts from different stakeholder organisations, representatives from the Member States and the EU institutions. The Forum will support the implementation of the EU alcohol strategy.

The Commission will work with stakeholders to promote the responsible marketing of alcoholic beverages, particularly with regard to advertising. A further aim of this joint effort will be to reach an agreement with representatives from the sectors concerned (hospitality, producers, media, advertising, etc.) on a code of commercial communication implemented at national and EU levels. The Commission will also regularly monitor advertising practices and the impact of self-regulatory codes on young people’s drinking, as well as industry compliance with such codes.

Background

Excessive alcohol consumption is a real public health problem, causing an estimated 7.4 % of all health problems and early deaths in the EU. Young people are particularly at risk, as over 10 % of female mortality and around 25 % of male mortality in the 15-29 age group is related to hazardous alcohol consumption. Alcohol abuse among young people is increasing in the Member States, particularly with trends such as binge-drinking. A further 10 000 people are killed in alcohol-related road accidents each year.

This strategy forms part of the follow-up to two Council documents:

  • the conclusions of June 2001, in which the Council called for a comprehensive Community strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm;
  • the Recommendation of June 2001 on the drinking of alcohol by young people.

Green Paper on Mental Health

Green Paper on Mental Health

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Green Paper on Mental Health

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Public health > Health determinants: lifestyle

Green Paper on Mental Health

With this Green Paper, the Commission is launching a wide debate on mental health. The idea is to hold a public consultation on how to improve the management of mental illness and promote mental well-being in the European Union.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Green Paper of 14 October 2005 – “Improving the mental health of the population – Towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union” [COM(2005) 484 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Current situation

Mental health is a growing challenge for the European Union (EU). It is estimated that mental health problems affect more than one in four adults in Europe and are the cause of the majority of the 58 000 annual deaths from suicide, an act which takes more lives than road traffic accidents.

The most common forms of mental ill health * are anxiety disorders and depression. According to some studies, by the year 2020 depression may be the highest ranking cause of disease in the developed world.

3.Stigmatisation is still a real problem for those suffering from mental illness. People with mental ill health or disability meet fear and prejudice from others, which increases personal suffering and social exclusion.

In economic terms, mental ill health costs the EU the equivalent of 3 to 4% of GDP because of lost productivity and additional burdens on the health, social, educational and justice systems.

There are significant inequalities between Member States in relation to mental health *. Suicide rates, for example, range from 3.6 per 100 000 population in Greece to 44 per 100 000 in Lithuania, the highest in the world. In addition, the number of involuntary placements in psychiatric institutions is 40 times higher in Finland than in Portugal.

The need for an EU strategy on mental health

Establishing a strategy on mental health at EU level would add value by:

  • creating a framework for exchange and cooperation between Member States;
  • helping to increase the coherence of actions in different policy sectors;
  • opening up a platform for involving stakeholders in building solutions.

The Commission proposes that an EU strategy could focus on the following aspects:

  • promoting the mental health of all;
  • addressing mental ill health through preventive action;
  • improving the quality of life of people with mental ill health or disability through social inclusion and the protection of their rights and dignity;
  • developing a mental health information, research and knowledge system for the EU.

Three areas of action envisaged

The Green Paper proposes three main areas of action at EU level:

  1. Creating a Dialogue with Member States on Mental Health.
    One objective is to identify priorities for an action plan on mental health. This dialogue should also consider the need for the two proposed Council Recommendations on the promotion of mental health and the reduction of depression and suicidal behaviour.
  2. Launching an EU Platform on Mental Health.
    The Platform would bring together a wide range of stakeholders in order to develop recommendations for action and examine ways of promoting the social inclusion of people with mental ill health and disability.
  3. Building up mental health information resources at EU level by developing an indicator system that would include information on mental health and its determinants and impact.

Next steps

All interested citizens, parties and organisations are invited to share their comments on this Green Paper.

In late 2006 the Commission will present its analysis of the responses received together with, if appropriate, its proposals for a strategy on mental health for the EU.

Background

The Green Paper is part of the Commission’s response to the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Mental Health held in Helsinki in January 2005. The Conference created strong political commitment for mental health and established a framework for comprehensive action. It invited the European Commission to contribute to implementing this framework for action. This Green Paper is an initial response to that invitation.

Key terms used in the act

The WHO describes mental health as: “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.
Mental ill health includes mental health problems and strain, impaired functioning associated with stress, symptoms of dementia and diagnosable mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression.

Related Acts

Council conclusions of 3 June 2005 on a Community action in the field of mental health [Not published in the Official Journal].
In these conclusions, the Council calls on the Member States and the Commission to take measures to provide information on mental health, promote its importance and pre-empt mental disorders.

Conclusions of the “Employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs” Council of 2 and 3 June 2003 on combating stigma and discrimination in relation to mental health.
In these conclusions, the Council stresses the impact of problems associated with stigma and discrimination in relation to mental illness. The Council thus calls for specific measures to improve social inclusion and to tackle discrimination and stigma.

Council conclusions of 15 November 2001 on combating stress and depression-related problems [Official Journal C 6 of 09.01.2002].
In these conclusions, the Council calls for the implementation of actions to prevent stress and depression-related problems and to promote mental health.

Council resolution of 18 November 1999 on the promotion of mental health [Official Journal C 86 of 24.03.2000].

Towards a Strategy on the Rights of the Child

Towards a Strategy on the Rights of the Child

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Towards a Strategy on the Rights of the Child

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Fundamental rights within the European Union

Towards a Strategy on the Rights of the Child

The European Commission proposes a strategy to effectively promote and safeguard the rights of the child in the European Union’s internal and external policies and to support Member States’ efforts in this field.

Document or Iniciative

Commission communication of 4 July 2006 – Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child [COM(2006) 367 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Children’s * rights form an integral part of the human rights that the EU is bound to respect under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, the Millennium Development Goals and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). In addition, the EU explicitly recognised children’s rights in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Children’s rights are still far from being generally respected, and there are still cases of basic childhood needs not being met, such as the right to an adequate diet, basic medical care and education. Moreover, many children are put to forced labour, are victims of human trafficking, or are involved in armed conflicts as child soldiers.

The specific problems found in the EU include social exclusion of Roma children, child trafficking, child pornography on the Internet, and the administering to children of drugs not previously subjected to specific tests.

Building on its long-standing tradition and commitment with regard to human rights in general and children’s rights in particular, the EU has the necessary weight to push children’s rights to the forefront of the international agenda and to encourage specific attention to children’s needs, drawing on Europe’s values of social protection and on the other programmes it is implementing.

In this document, the European Commission proposes a strategy for protecting the rights of the child within the framework of the EU’s internal and external policies. This strategy is based on the following specific objectives:

  • taking advantage of existing policies and instruments;
  • establishing the priorities of future EU action;
  • systematically taking the rights of the child into account in all EU external and internal policies (“mainstreaming”);
  • ensuring efficient coordination and consultation mechanisms;
  • reinforcing competence and expertise on the rights of the child;
  • communicating more effectively on the rights of the child;
  • promoting the rights of the child in the field of external relations.

In order to attain these objectives, this strategy envisages a number of measures, namely:

  • setting up one single six-digit telephone number (beginning with 116) within the EU for child helplines, as well as a number for a hotline dedicated to missing and sexually exploited children;
  • support for the banking sector and credit card companies in combating the use of credit cards when purchasing sexual images of children on the Internet;
  • launching an Action Plan on Children in Development Cooperation;
  • publication of a consultation document with a view to identifying actions to be implemented in the future;
  • setting up a European Forum for the Rights of the Child and an online discussion platform;
  • involving children in the decision-making process;
  • development of a communication strategy on the rights of the child, helping both children and their parents to improve their knowledge of these rights.

The Commission is committed to allocating the resources needed for the measures proposed in this Communication and for future strategy. A progress report will be presented every year.

Key terms used in the act
Child: any person under 18 years of age.

Key terms used in the act
  • Children in the world: 2.2 billion.
  • Children living in developing countries: 86% of the total number. These countries also account for 95% of those who die before reaching the age of five, who do not have access to primary education or who are victims of forced labour or sexual abuse.
  • One third of all children suffer from malnutrition during the first five years of their life. One sixth, mostly girls, don’t go to primary school.
  • Over 10 million children under five die each year from illnesses that could easily be prevented or treated.
  • One billion children have impeded physical, intellectual and/or psychological development.
  • 218 million children are put to forced labour.
  • 1.2 million children are victims of human trafficking.
  • 300 000 children are involved in armed conflicts as child soldiers.
  • Over 200 million children live with a serious disability.
  • 140 million children are orphans.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 5 February 2008 – A Special Place for Children in EU external action [COM(2008) 55 final – not published in the Official Journal].

8. This communication contributes to establishing an action plan for children in the EU’s external action, based on a holistic approach which takes into account the different facets of the problem and which draws on humanitarian, development, security and human rights policies. It complements the “EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child”, adopted by the Council on 10 December 2007, which provide the foundation for EU action to protect and promote the rights of the child in its external policy.

European security strategy

European security strategy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European security strategy

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against organised crime

European security strategy

Document or Iniciative

A secure Europe in a better world – European security strategy . Brussels, 12 December 2003 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The European security strategy was drawn up under the authority of the EU’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and adopted by the Brussels European Council of 12 and 13 December 2003. It identifies the global challenges and key threats to the security of the Union and clarifies its strategic objectives in dealing with them, such as building security in the EU’s neighbourhood and promoting an international order based on effective multilateralism. It also assesses the policy implications that these objectives have for Europe.

The security environment: global challenges and key threats

In the context of ever-increasing globalisation, the internal and external aspects of security are inextricably linked. Flows of trade and investment, the development of technology and the spread of democracy have brought prosperity and freedom to many people, while others have perceived globalisation as a cause of frustration and injustice. In much of the developing world, poverty and diseases such as AIDS give rise to security concerns, and in many cases economic failure is linked to political problems and violent conflict. Security is a precondition for development. Competition for natural resources is likely to create further turbulence. Energy dependence is a special concern for Europe.

The security strategy identifies three key threats facing Europe:

  • Terrorism. Concerted European action against terrorism is indispensable. Terrorism puts lives at risk and seeks to undermine the openness and tolerance of our societies. It arises out of complex causes, including the pressures of modernisation, cultural, social and political crises, and the alienation of young people living in foreign societies.
  • Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This is potentially the greatest threat to our security. International treaty régimes and export control arrangements have slowed the spread of WMD, but we are entering a new and dangerous period. Advances in the biological sciences may increase the potency of biological weapons. The most frightening scenario is one in which terrorist groups acquire weapons of mass destruction. In this event, a small group would be able to inflict damage on a scale previously possible only for States and armies.
  • Regional conflicts. These can have a direct or indirect impact on European interests, regardless of their geographical location. They pose a threat to minorities, fundamental freedoms and human rights. They can lead to extremism and terrorism and provoke state failure.
  • State failure. Civil conflict and bad governance – corruption, abuse of power, weak institutions and lack of accountability – corrode States from within. This can lead to a collapse of state institutions. Afghanistan under the Taliban is a well-known example. State failure is an alarming phenomenon that undermines global governance and adds to regional instability.
  • Organised crime. Europe is a prime target for organised crime, which has an important external dimension, namely trafficking in drugs, women, children and arms, which does not stop at the Union’s borders. Such criminal activity is often associated with weak or failing states. For example, revenues from drugs have helped to undermine state structures in several drug-producing countries. Organised crime can have links with terrorism. In extreme cases, it can come to dominate the State.

The European Union’s strategic objectives

To defend its security and promote its values, the European Union pursues three strategic objectives:

  • Addressing the threats. The Union continues to take steps to tackle the key threats. It responded after 11 September with measures that included the adoption of the European Arrest Warrant and steps against terrorist financing. The Union continues to pursue its policies against arms proliferation, in part by strengthening international treaties and their verification provisions. It has intervened to help deal with regional conflicts and to put failed States back on their feet. Restoring good government promotes democracy and is a way of tackling organised crime. Until the end of the Cold War, our traditional concept of self-defence was based on the threat of invasion. With the new threats, however, the first line of defence will often be abroad. We should be ready to act before a crisis occurs. Today, each threat requires a combination of responses, which the Union is particularly well equipped to provide.
  • Building security in its neighbourhood. It is in the Union’s interest that countries on our borders are well governed. Our task is to promote a ring of well-governed countries to the east of the European Union and on the shores of the Mediterranean with whom we can enjoy close and cooperative relations. Resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a strategic priority. Without this, there will be little chance of dealing with other problems in the Middle East.
  • Developing an international order based on effective multilateralism. Our security and prosperity increasingly depend on an effective multilateral system. The Union aims to develop a stronger international society, well-functioning international institutions – such as the United Nations, whose Charter constitutes the fundamental framework for international relations – and a rule-based international order. The best protection for our security is a world of well-governed democratic States. EU policies are aimed at bringing this about.

Policy implications for Europe

The European Union has made progress towards a coherent foreign policy and effective crisis management. However, according to the security strategy, the Union must:

  • be more active in pursuing its strategic objectives. Active policies are needed to counter the new threats. The Union needs to develop a strategic culture that fosters early, rapid and, when necessary, robust intervention. A more active EU taking on greater responsibilities will also carry greater political weight.
  • increase its capabilities. Steps such as the creation of a European defence agency take us in the direction of a more capable Europe. The armies of the Union’s Member States must be transformed into more flexible and more mobile forces to enable them to address the new threats. The Union also needs more capacity to bring all necessary civilian resources to bear in crises and post-crisis situations. In addition, the Union must go further in combining the diplomatic capabilities of its Member States with those of the EU.
  • pursue coherent policies. The challenge is to bring together the different tools and capabilities of EU policy, such as European assistance programmes, the European Development Fund and the Member States’ military and civilian capabilities. The Union must pursue coherent policies. Diplomatic efforts and development, trade and environmental policies should follow the same agenda.
  • work with its partners. As things stand now, neither the Union nor any Member State is alone capable of addressing the threats we are faced with. Multilateral cooperation and bilateral partnerships with key actors are a priority and a necessity. The transatlantic relationship is irreplaceable. However, the EU must also work for closer relations with partners such as Russia, Japan, China, Canada and India.

The European Union: a global player

The violence of the two world wars that marked the first half of the twentieth century has given way to a period of peace, stability and prosperity unprecedented in European history. The creation of the European Union has been central to this development. European countries are now committed to dealing peacefully with disputes and to cooperating through common institutions.

The United States has played a critical role in European integration and European security, especially through NATO. Now that the Cold War is over, it has become the single dominant military power. However, no country is able to tackle today’s complex problems on its own. As a union of 27 states with a total population of over 500 million, the EU has inevitably become a global player. It should therefore be ready to share in the responsibility for creating global security and building a better world.