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Tackling Under-Age Drinking in Europe: Towards a Comprehensive EU-Wide Partnership

Key Speakers

Dr. Pieter de Coninck, Directorate Public Health and Risk Assessment, DG SANCO, European Commission
Dr. Adrian Bonner, Director, Institute of Alcohol Studies UK
Mrs. Eva Skärstrand, Author, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Sweden
Mrs. Mariann Skar, Secretary General, Eurocare
Dr. Paul McArdle, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, University of Newcastle

Although recent statistics indicate that total alcohol consumption in Europe is falling, European citizens are still the highest consumers of alcohol in the world. Furthermore, worrying trends are emerging in relation to under-age drinking, binge-drinking and drink-driving, with the EU’s own statistics on the economic and social cost of alcohol related harm making sobering reading:

  • Alcohol responsible for 7.5% of all ill-health and early death in EU
  • 60 acute or chronic diseases caused by excessive alcohol consumption
  • More than 10,000 deaths a year are due to alcohol-related road accidents
  • Tangible economic cost in Europe of over €125 billion

Whilst overall adult consumption is decreasing, with alcohol becoming more affordable in nearly all member states in the last decade, there has been a steady rise in harmful drinking patterns, particularly amongst younger people. Unless policymakers across Europe act quickly, this alarming trend in under-age drinking and binge drinking will have adverse long term effects on young people’s lives and future development.

Campaigns to raise awareness, an understanding of the underlying social consequences and better access to education are all steps towards reversing this trend. Developing a methodology that involves all relevant authorities in young people’s lives such as schools, public health organizations, local government and NGO’s is crucial. Coordination at national and EU level could result in a stronger regulatory framework preventing the access of alcohol to minors as well as better awareness campaigns.

This International Symposium will gather comparative experience and best practices in early intervention strategies based around young people and their families, and other key consequences of under-age drinking such as anti-social behaviour and drink-driving. It will also discuss the potential role of national governments and regional authorities in supporting campaigns to combat the issue and the dissemination of lessons learned from different European countries.

The Centre for Parliamentary Studies welcomes the participation of all key partners, responsible authorities and stakeholders. The Symposium will support the exchange of ideas and encourage delegates to engage in thought-provoking topical debate.


09:00 Registration and Morning Refreshments
10:00 Chair’s Welcome and Opening Remarks

Mrs. Mariann Skar, Secretary General, Eurocare (confirmed)
10:10 Panel Session One:
Multi Level Approaches on Alcohol Awareness-Raising
  • The Legal Drinking Age – Current Challenges and Possible Solutions
  • The Role of the National and Public Administration
  • Regional Approaches in Tackling Under-Age Drinking
  • Lessons Learned from Existing National Strategies
Dr. Pieter de Coninck, Directorate Public Health and Risk Assessment, DG SANCO, European Commission (confirmed)
10:30 First Round of Discussions
11:00 Morning Coffee Break
11:20 Panel Session Two:
Youth and Alcohol: Preventive Strategies – Good Practices and Lessons Learned

  • Drinking and Road Traffic Accidents
  • Identifying Risk Factors for Addictive Behaviour
  • Existing Raising Awareness Strategies across Europe
  • Are Youth Overexposed? Tackling Root Causes and Practices for Treatment
Dr. Paul McArdle, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, University of Newcastle (confirmed)
Dr. Adrian Bonner, Director, Institute of Alcohol Studies UK (confirmed)
Mr. Maik Dünnbier, Political Officer, Active Europe, Sweden (confirmed)
12:20 Second Round of Discussions
12:50 Networking Lunch
13:50 Panel Session Three:
Effective Prevention through Education and Teachers’ Involvement: The Role of Primary and Secondary Schools in Europe
  • Creating National Training Schemes for Young People
  • Parental Support and Family Programmes
  • Multi-sector Approach
  • Recommendations for Future Actions
Dr. Eva Skärstrand, Researcher, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Sweden (confirmed)
Dr. Gilles Reckinger, Representative of the European Association of Teachers (AEDE) in Luxembourg; University of St. Gallen (confirmed)
14:30 Third Round of Discussions
15:00 Afternoon Tea Break
15:20 Panel Session Four:
Sharing Best Practices – Learning from Comparative Experiences in Europe
  • Raising Awareness of the Social Costs – Beyond Social Advertising to Promote Alcohol Responsibility
  • Public-Private Partnership – Conveying Health Messages Effectively to Young People
  • Current Interventions and Strategies in Europe – Transforming Comparative Knowledge into Practice
Mr. Charlie Mowat, Director, Serve Legal (confirmed)
Mr. Chris Sorek, Chief Executive, Drinkaware (confirmed)
15:40 Fourth Round of Discussions
16:10 Chairman’s Summary and Closing Remarks
16:15 Networking Cocktail
13th April 2011
Silken Hotel, Brussels

how to get to the venue

Register your place

“ The WHO European Region is the heaviest drinking region in the world, with over one fifth of the European population of 15 years old and over reporting heavy episodic drinking (defined as five or more drinks on one occasion, or 50g alcohol) at least once a week. Heavy episodic drinking is widespread across all ages and all of Europe. Also, as previously stipulated, the WHO European Region has the highest proportion of total ill health and premature death due to alcohol in the world, with a very close relationship between a country’s total per capita alcohol consumption and its prevalence of alcohol-related harm and alcohol dependence. This high level of harm hides enormous alcohol-related health inequalities between eastern and western Europe, particularly as regards deaths from injuries. ”
European Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2010, WHO Europe 2010
“ It is my firm belief that in order to make any real change in the fight against alcohol-related harm, the efforts must be high not only on the public health agenda, but also on the agenda of all stakeholders, including schools, employers, NGOs, alcoholic drinks producers, distributors, the advertising and media industries, local/national authorities, Member States and the European Union. ”
European Commissioner for Health, June 2007
“ In such difficult circumstances, people are also more likely to abuse alcohol or smoke or even take up drugs. Some Member States have recently reported to the Commission rising levels of depression, as well as alcohol consumption. Young people are particularly vulnerable to addictive behaviours, which are likely to stay with them for many years after the crisis has ended. ”
Jon Dalli, Commissioner Responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, November 2010