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Spirits sector supports public-private partnerships to reduce alcohol-related harm



beSpiritsEUROPE hosts a workshop in Brussels today (14 April) to showcase a number of successful public-private campaigns from Europe and around the world aimed at reducing alcohol related harm.  The event brings together stakeholders from the spirit sector, NGOs, EU institutions and member states to share best practices from prevention campaigns.

“Overall, we consider the fight against alcohol harm to be too fragmented, and lacking in coordination,” said Paul Skehan, Director General of spiritsEUROPE.  “Instead of all working in silos, we should work more in partnership.  This is why we show examples of successful partnerships that are influencing attitudes and behaviour towards responsible drinking patterns.  We want to show that all stakeholders working together can achieve far more than all working separately.”

Examples of public-private partnerships were presented, including between producers and city municipalities.  This is the case in Spain with the ‘Children, not a single drop: over 100 reasons why a child should not drink’ campaign, aimed at changing perceptions of underage drinking and making it socially unacceptable.

Similarly, an agreement was just signed between producers, bars and the municipality of Lisbon in Portugal to employ “night angels” to promote respectful use of public spaces and reduce public disorder in difficult neighborhoods.  With the same objective, a wide partnership is in place for more than a year between drinks producers, bars and the Danish Ministry of Health, to ensure safe night-life in Denmark.

The UK has a longstanding tradition of partnership approach and several examples where presented involving licensing authorities, healthcare producers, police and councils.  In Poland, on the other hand, it is industry working with the Customs authorities that has developed a campaign to educate consumers on the dangers of consuming illicit alcohol - created after the alcohol poisoning of 2013.

Last but not least, a campaign in Québec for the past four years shows that when partners from the scientific community, public health authorities, producers, distributors, creative agencies, etc. all come together, they can be very powerful at spreading messages that resonate with the target group and increase levels of knowledge and influence behaviour.


Excise duties: Commission welcomes agreement on rules governing alcohol



The Commission has welcomed the 30 July agreement reached in the Council on the new rules governing excise duties on alcohol within the EU. This agreement paves the way for a better business environment and reduced costs for small alcohol-producing businesses. The agreed new rules will ensure that small and artisan alcohol producers have access to a new EU-wide certification system confirming their access to lower excise duty rates across the Union.

This will have a positive impact on consumers, which will benefit from a crackdown on the illegal use of tax-free denatured alcohol to make counterfeit drinks. There will also be an increase in the threshold for lower strength beer to which reduced rates may apply to encourage brewers to produce beverages with a lower alcohol content.

Following the agreement, Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said: "Today's agreement is a welcome move towards a more modern and fairer tax regime for alcohol which also supports our fight against fraud.”

New rules will be applicable from 1 January 2022. The Commission will monitor the introduction of an excise duty or reduced excise rates for private production of ethyl alcohol and will report to the Council on this measure.

A full press release is available here

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#spiritsEurope launches interactive map of spirits with geographical indications (GIs)



A new interactive map geolocating all of Europe’s 240 GI spirits has been launched, showing the great diversity, rich cultural heritage, and economic importance of these products for communities all across Europe.

Launching the map, spiritsEUROPE Director General Ulrich Adam said: “The map shows where exactly in Europe the 240 different GI spirits are from. Products like Cognac, Irish Whiskey and Polish Vodka are among our most well-known, yet the list is so much longer! For the first time today, we are – quite literally – putting all of these GI spirits on the map. I invite you to explore this exciting new tool, and to discover more about the different regions and passionate people producing this extraordinarily wide range of quality spirits.”

European spirits with protections known as Geographical Indications (GIs) are both popular at home and hugely appreciated worldwide: domestic sales amounted to more than €10 billion in 2017, while GI spirits made up two thirds of total European spirits exports worth €12.5bn last year.  As such, the economic contribution of GI spirits to local communities is substantial, and never more so as Europe begins to re-open from lockdowns.

Organization for an International Geographical Indications Network (oriGIn) EU Representative Mathilde Chareyron said: “This is a great way to visualize the cultural, economic and social importance of Geographical Indications in the European Union. It will allow citizens to better understand the success of the EU’s GI policy and the key contribution that GIs make to local development. This is a valuable addition to the work of OriGIn in ensuring better protection and promotion of geographical indications.”

A study published by the European Commission in April of this year found that spirits with geographical indications sell for over two and a half times more than products without the protection, underlining the high quality and reputation that consumers attach to GI products.

Another important way in which spirits, and GI spirits in particular, contribute to local development is spirits tourism. From family-owned micro-distilleries to some of the world’s biggest and best-known brands, distilleries across Europe attract millions of visitors every year from across the globe. In 2019, two million people visited Scotch Whisky distilleries, almost two million tourists visited French distilleries, while Irish distilleries welcomed more than one million visitors.

Calling for support for Europe’s distillers, Ulrich Adam added: “Distillers across Europe can and will play their part in driving the European recovery after the devasting pandemic, but they need support. We need the European Commission to continue to champion the protection of GIs in trade discussions. With promotion and the right supports, distillers will once again drive exports and create jobs and growth in Europe”.

Spirits GIs Map

·        spiritsEUROPE proudly represents one of Europe’s most valuable agri-food export sectors and, with it, the interests of 31 associations of spirits producers as well as 10 leading multinational companies. More information can be found here.

·        oriGIn - The Organization for an International Geographical Indications Network - oriGIn - is a non-for-profit Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) based in Geneva. Established in 2003, origin is today a truly global alliance of Geographical Indications (GIs) from a large variety of sectors, representing some 500 associations of producers and other GI-related institutions from 40 countries.

·        EU database of GIs registered in Europe: the e-ambrosia database

·        List and description of the spirit drinks categories.

·        Study on economic value of EU quality schemes, geographical indications (GIs) and traditional specialities guaranteed (TSGs) – April 2020. Available here.

·        More information on spirits tourism is available here.


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#spiritsEUROPE launches new responsible drinking campaign



spiritsEUROPE launches a new campaign to promote responsible drinking, given the concern over excessive alcohol consumption during the global lockdown.  

Reports of increases in alcohol sales since the beginning of confinement measures have caused alarm. While sales of alcohol in shops and supermarkets have increased, this is greatly offset by the closure of the hospitality sector and the effective collapse of the tourism and travel retail sectors. These changes following the lockdown have in fact resulted in substantial declines in the sales of spirits in Europe – currently estimated at around a 20% to 30% drop.

Notwithstanding these findings, spiritsEUROPE is determined to not be complacent: “Reports that some are drinking more means we must remain proactive in our promotion of responsible drinking. It’s important that we all do everything we can to protect our health at the moment and that includes ensuring that we drink responsibly and within the drinking guidelines,” said spiritsEUROPE Director General Ulrich Adam.

He added: “Today we’re launching a new strand of our efforts to encourage responsible drinking. While we are waiting for our favourite pubs, clubs and restaurants to re-open, we want to remind people that if they choose to enjoy a gin and tonic or their favourite cocktail at home, it’s important to keep within the responsible drinking guidelines.”

In the first part of the campaign, spiritsEUROPE is launching an interactive quiz which will test people’s “alcohol-awareness” and point them towards resources to brush up on their knowledge.

The campaign will be accompanied by a Europe-wide digital investment to promote the quiz and its messages. Translations of the quiz will also be provided free-of-charge to the national associations in spiritsEUROPE to increase the impact of the campaign.

“We understand people’s concern about drinking to excess at home during this period and that’s why we’re renewing our efforts to promote responsible drinking at the moment,” said Ulrich Adam.

spiritsEUROPE’s new campaign has been welcomed by MEPs Juan Ignació Zoido (EPP, Spain) and Irène Tolleret (Renew Europe, France), co-chairs of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Wines, Spirits and Quality Foodstuffs: “spiritsEUROPE, along with other sector associations, has long encouraged the responsible consumption of alcohol, and as chairs of the Intergroup on Wines, Spirits and Quality Foodstuffs at the European Parliament, we believe it is important to see this work intensify during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud to see common efforts and initiatives to promote responsible consumption of alcohol and reduce harmful drinking."

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