Tory Alcohol Policy

“Dear Sir,

The Conservatives’ Health spokesperson, Andrew Lansley (Guardian Weds 13th January) yesterday unveiled new Tory policy to scrap the current labelling system for units of alcohol, and also to start labelling the calorie content of alcoholic drinks. On food, he proposes labelling food with guideline daily amounts for the key nutrients such as fats, sugars and salts.

When explaining the policy on BBC radio, he made the interesting point that we cannot legislate for the UK alone and that it needs to be done on a Europe-wide basis.

For once, I completely agree with him. Labelling of alcohol and calorie content is what we need after the christmas break. Alcoholic drinks are made and sold all over Europe, and we need the same fair standards to know what we are drinking regardless of its country of origin. Our ‘common market’ necessitates a shared labelling system for the food and drinks we consume. There is currently draft legislation before the European Parliament to do just that.

As the MEP responsible for this legislation in the European Parliament for my political group, I have already submitted amendments to change this legislation to ensure compulsory labelling of the calorie content of alcohol, and compulsory “traffic light” labelling of all foods, so shoppers can see at a glance the levels of salt, sugar fat and calories of the food they pick up off the shelf. Based on what on what Andrew Lansley said, I look forward to support from my Conservative colleagues in Brussels on this issue.

On this issue I speak for 184 Socialist and Democrat MEPs from 27 different countries – the European Parliament’s second largest political group. This contrasts starkly with the Tories and their self-enforced isolation. They must be kicking themselves (and David Cameron) for having left the European Parliament’s largest Group of MEPs – cutting ties with the parties of President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel, only to throw themselves into the arms of Poles and Czechs with extremist and far-right links.

I fear that both the Conservative front bench and their marginalised MEPs will have great trouble in pursuing their new policies in the European Parliament, with so few friends and such limited power.

Glenis Willmott
Leader of the Labour MEPs”

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