Minister: Estonia to take alcohol policy to EU level

  • 2017-07-12
  • LETA/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Health and Labor Jevgeni Ossinovski in Brussels on Tuesday introduced the priorities of the Estonian EU presidency to the European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and said that Estonia wants to reach agreements with EU member states on how to advance data-based innovation in healthcare and tackle the harmful use of alcohol.

"A digital Europe and the free movement of data is one of the overall priorities of the Estonian presidency. Digital solutions provide people with better opportunities for taking care of their health and help health professionals to improve the quality of treatment. Each person should have the right to easily access their own personal health data and decide how this data is used. The EU has to provide the means to do it in a secure and convenient manner in all member states," Ossinovski said. "For our individual and collective benefit, we need to be smart in the way we use the vast amounts of health data and not secure it from use."

Another important topic the minister spoke about was taking the harmful use of alcohol. "As the presidency, we consider it important to open the discussion on the labeling of alcoholic beverages, as it is obviously a cross-border aspect, where more can be achieved at the level of the European Union," Ossinovski said.

The minister also stressed that the single market is functioning based on the common rules and regulations of the EU. "This is the case for safety requirements that have been put in place for a number of consumer products, be it toys, cosmetics, tobacco products or pharmaceuticals. Why not for alcohol? According to the estimations, the yearly societal costs of alcohol consumption in EU can reach up to 372 billion euros."

According to a Eurobarometer study conducted in 2016, Europeans consider health and social security an important issue facing their country, sharing the fourth place with the threat of terrorism, just after unemployment, immigration, and the economic situation.

Health ministers will discuss both issues at an informal meeting in Tallinn on July 20 and 21. Estonia is also organizing a high-level conference on e-health from October 16 to 18 as well as a conference on how to tackle the cross-border aspects of the harmful use of alcohol on October 30 and 31.