The European Beer Pledge

Launched in the European Parliament in 2012, the European Beer Pledge is a voluntary initiative by brewers across Europe to support EU Member States in reducing alcohol related harm.

The Brewers of Europe, a founding member of the European Union’s Alcohol and Health Forum, committed Europe’s brewers to taking concerted and measurable action under three pillars of activity:

  • Pillar 1: Increase consumer knowledge of beer and its responsible consumption
  • Pillar 2: Ensure responsible advertising and marketing
  • Pillar 3: Address alcohol misuse
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The commitment built on decades of brewer-supported actions against alcohol misuse and the beer sector’s position as the leading contributor of voluntary commitments to the EU Alcohol and Health Forum. Taking and rolling out this commitment, the brewing sector has taken its responsibility in supporting the implementation of global, EU and national strategies to promote responsible consumption and address alcohol misuse.

Transcending the Pledge, the multi-stakeholder approach was considered vital to developing and implementing approaches that could be successfully implemented at national level and in line with local expectations and customs. At the EU level this approach was encapsulated through an industry-NGO partnership, established under the Forum and continuing to this day, between The Brewers of Europe and the European Transport Safety Council.

In 2015 the Pledge was also further strengthened at a pan-European level under the consumer information pillar, with a landmark commitment from brewers to voluntarily roll-out both ingredients listing and nutritional information for beer brands across the EU.

Rolling the Pledge out, the brewing sector is contributing to the implementation not just of the EU Strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol related harm, but also of the Action Plan of the European Committee of National Alcohol Policy and Action, the WHO Global Strategy, the WHO Euro Action Plan and the many national action plans in place across the EU.

Over the years The Brewers of Europe, with support from its national associations and brewing companies, has played an important role in supporting initiatives to promote responsible consumption. Through the submission, implementation and reporting of commitments, brewers have also been leading actors, with well over one hundred commitments, in the EU’s Alcohol and Health Forum, which was set up under the 2006 EU Strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol-related harm.

As the European Commission takes the time in 2017 to review the role of the EU in the fight against alcohol related harm and the place for the Forum in supporting this work, it is important both to look back at the results and to look at the areas for future collaborative activities.

There are now important EU data available showing important reductions in alcohol related harm since the adoption of the 2006 EU Strategy. For example, from 2006 to 2014:

  • Drink drive fatalities across the EU’s 28 current Member States have fallen by an estimated 40%, based on figures from the European Commission and the European Transport Safety Council.
  • Amongst 15-year olds in the EU weekly drinking has fallen by 48%, whilst numbers reporting drunkenness on two or more occasions also fell by 27%

Whilst there are inherent difficulties in identifying a direct causal link between these improvements and the individual actions supported by the brewing sector, the work under the Forum or even the existence of an EU Strategy, what is undeniable is that, since the adoption of the EU Strategy and the creation of its Forum, key harm indicators related to the misuse of alcohol have been moving in the right direction.

This report also contains details of multiple initiatives that have been rolled out in partnership with governments, doctors’ groups, road safety authorities, parents, educators, the police, non-governmental organisations, consumer groups, indeed many parts of our society. What this shows is that The Brewers of Europe, its member associations and brewing companies at large have remained committed to the roll-out of the European Beer Pledge, taking seriously our responsibility to work together with others in the fight against alcohol misuse.

Our strong wish at The Brewers of Europe is for the EU to continue its strategy of tackling alcohol related harm by promoting responsibility and moderation, targeting alcohol misuse and focusing on those most vulnerable. In turn the Commission can depend on the relentless support of Europe’s brewers, at EU and local level, through targeted actions, conducted in partnership with other key stakeholders. The brewing sector also stands ready to further build upon the roll-out of the Pledge and investigate how to deepen its efforts through further specific pan-European activities under the different pillars in areas where the brewing sector has a clear and important role to play.

As in previous reports, KPMG Sustainability has reviewed the information provided and supporting materials in order to provide limited assurance on its content, ensuring that all significant claims within the report be backed up by evidence through a process that encourages rigour in monitoring outputs and outcomes of the initiatives undertaken. KPMG Sustainability’s Independent Assurance Report can be seen at the end of this report.

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