TALLINN - Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas refrained from any assessment on Wednesday regarding an initiative of Minister of Health and Labor Jevgeni Ossinovski to reform the European Union's alcohol policy.
Answering a question during question time in parliament from the leader of the opposition Free Party, Andres Herkel, Ratas said that the government wishes to promote international relations and Estonia's good reputation and to explain EU topics to Estonian society within the framework of the EU presidency in the second half of this year, but refrained from any hint as to how high a priority the government attached to the Ossinovski plan.
At the same time, Ratas said that the plan of the minister to reduce alcohol consumption in Estonia had the coalition's full support.
Ossinovski, leader of the Social Democratic Party, said on social media at the beginning of December that at a meeting he had with the EU's health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis in Brussels it was agreed that within the framework of the presidency, Estonia will put the focus on several Europe-wide topics of alcohol policy from online marketing to labeling of alcohol.
The minister told BNS on Friday that the EU needs a new alcohol strategy, and among other aspects, the cross-border trade should be dealt with and it should be considered whether to take into account the alcohol volume of wine in taxation like it is done with beer. He said that since the maximum amount of alcohol that can be taken across the border is decided on the EU level, the issue which not only concerns Estonia, Finland and Latvia, but also the border between Sweden and Denmark, Denmark and Germany, and Luxembourg and its neighbors, has to be dealt with on the EU level as well.