The own-initiative report of the special committee on cancer faces a new hurdle.

UM – 02/2022

Hard wrangling took place among MEPs on BECA – the European Parliament's special committee on cancer – until an agreement could be reached between the political groups on 9 December last year and the report entitled "Strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer – towards a comprehensive and coordinated strategy" (Report only in English) could be adopted (cf. DSV News January 2022). There had been specific arguments about e-cigarettes as an alternative to cigarettes and about nutritional issues. In addition, quite a number of MEPs were annoyed by soft warnings about alcohol.

WHO: There is no such thing as safe alcohol consumption

Alcohol plays a key role in Europe's beating cancer plan. This contains the target of reducing per capita consumption by at least 10 per cent by 2025. According to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (see here), there is no reliable measure of safe alcohol consumption. This was also finally agreed upon in the BECA. But precisely because of this statement, the hard-won compromise is once again being called into question. According to the criticism, the risks of alcohol consumption would be overestimated.

"Not every sip of alcohol is poison" (1)

According to reports, some parliamentarians from the ranks of the EPP Group who were not members of the BECA want to further weaken the wording in the text before the special committee's own-initiative report is finally put to the vote in the plenary of the European Parliament in mid-February. It maintains that there is responsible, moderate and harmful alcohol consumption. This should be made clearer in the report.

BECA report to be "reworked"

Amendments are now being prepared to highlight these supposed differences in the report. In addition, the supporting references to the already cautiously worded health warnings against alcohol consumption are to be replaced by information on the responsible use of alcohol. If the proposed amendments find a sufficient number of supporters, they must be voted on. There are indications that the "low threshold" (5 or 10 per cent of all Members of Parliament) is reached in the EPP, which according to Article 180 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament entitles to have amendment proposals examined in the plenary.

Health organisations for clear words

In an appeal (letter dated 4 February 2022), a number of health organisations have written to MEPs urging them not to weaken the report further. The plenary session on 15 February must show whether your plea will be crowned with success.