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Health, alcohol and EU law: understanding the impact of European single market law on alcohol policies

Baumberg Geiger, Ben, Anderson, Peter (2008) Health, alcohol and EU law: understanding the impact of European single market law on alcohol policies. European Journal of Public Health, 18 (4). pp. 392-398. ISSN Online ISSN 1464-360X - Print ISSN 1101-1262. (doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckn026)


Many professionals in the alcohol field see the role of the the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as negative for health. This review examines ECJ and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) case law in the context of two broader debates: firstly the extension of European Union (EU) law into alcohol policy (the ‘juridification’ of alcohol policy), and secondly the extent to which alcohol policy is an example of the dominance of ‘negative integration’ (the removal of trade-distorting policy) over ‘positive integration’ (the creation of European alcohol policies). Methods: a comprehensive review of all ECJ/EFTA Court cases on alcohol, with interpretation aided by a secondary review on alcohol and EU law and the broader health and trade field. Results: from looking at taxation, minimum pricing, advertising and monopoly policies, the extension of the scope of the these courts over alcohol policy is unquestionable. However, the ECJ and EFTA Court have been prepared to prioritise health over trade concerns when considering alcohol policies, providing certain conditions have been met. Conclusion: while a partial juridification of alcohol policy has led to the negative integration of alcohol policies, this effect is not as strong as sometimes thought; EU law is more health friendly than it is perceived to be, and its impact on levels of alcohol-related harm appears low. Nevertheless, lessons emerge for policymakers concerned about the legality of alcohol policies under EU law. More generally, those concerned with alcohol and health should pay close attention to developments in EU law given their importance for public health policy on alcohol.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/eurpub/ckn026
Uncontrolled keywords: alcohol policy, EU law, juridification, negative integration, trade agreements
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Mita Mondal
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2013 10:24 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 10:19 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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