Working to reduce alcohol harm

Alcohol Action Ireland’s submission to the EU Commission’s Agriculture and Rural Development consultation on ‘Modernising and Simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy’ (CAP)

What are the main problems/obstacles preventing the current policy from successfully
delivering on its objectives? What are the drivers behind these problems?
Most of the CAP money relating to alcohol is spent on wine subsidies, both productivity support and promotional measures. Since Ireland is not a producer of wine, none of that money reaches Ireland in direct subsidies. However, the knock-on effect of these subsidies has help to drive down the price of wine across the EU and increase the promotion of wine.
These measures have been very effective in contributing to increased sales and consumption of cheap wine in Ireland. Alcohol consumption in Ireland almost trebled between 1960 and 2001, rising from 4.9 litres of pure alcohol per person aged 15 and over to 14.3 litres. It decreased the years that followed as an increase in excise duty, followed by the recession, impacted on alcohol’s affordability. The most recent data from 2016 shows alcohol consumption in Ireland on the rise again to 11.46 litres per capita. Alcohol is responsible for 88 deaths every month. That’s over 1,000 deaths per year. One in four deaths of young men aged 15-39 is due to alcohol and alcohol is a factor in half of all suicides in Ireland.
2013 data from the Health Research Board shows that wine was the most common type of alcohol consumed by women aged over 25 years (58.9%) and one-in-four women (24.1%) experienced harm as a result of their own alcohol use, while 15.6% of women reported experiencing harm as a result of someone else’s alcohol use. Therefore, in our opinion it not appropriate for the EU to continue subsidising wine in this manner. 
Which elements of the current CAP are the most burdensome or complex and why?
The CAP should aspire to be not merely a support mechanism for farmers but also shape health and well- being of EU citizens. The wine promotional funds should be re-examined. The scheme has been increased in the recent years from 61 million euros yearly to 200 million, which creates a massive
incoherence in EU policy. The promotion funds are used for advertising of wine, when the World Health Organisation is calling on advertising restrictions for alcoholic beverages to reduce alcohol-related harm.
In Ireland, our harmful drinking has a huge impact on our nation’s physical and mental health, claiming three lives every day. Beyond health consequences, the harmful use of alcohol brings significant social and economic losses to individuals and society at large.
The Irish Government is committed to introducing a Minimum Unit Price (MUP) for alcohol. In this country, it is possible for a man to reach his low risk weekly drinking limit for just €8.50 – less than an hour’s pay on the minimum wage – while a woman can reach her low risk weekly drinking limit for just €6.30. MUP is needed, partly because alcohol prices are being pushed down by instruments such as the CAP. We believe that the wider food & agricultural policies should be aligning with public health policies such as MUP, to drive down consumption of alcohol and in turn reduce alcohol harm.