New Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act has to come quickly

4 March 2010

STAP: Municipalities are in the starting blocks to take over the inspection from the Food and Consumer Safety Authority

Today the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament decides whether the present amendment of the Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act has a controversial character. STAP knows that many municipalities quickly want to get to work with the new law. The present amendment is a result of 7 years of study, consultation and experimentation. Municipalities were strongly involved during the past few years with the development of the law. The result of this is that the proposal is tuned into the wishes and possibilities of the municipalities. A single weak element in the law should not become a reason to postpone the discussion of it. The Union of Local Authorities (VNG) indicated yesterday that a delay of the discussion is wanted. This position ignores the urgent character of the new law.

Tackling of alcohol-use among youngsters may not be delayed
With the new law the enforcement of the compliance with the age-limits will be strongly improved. It is no secret that the Food and Consumer Safety Authority has insufficient capacity to enforce the present legislation properly. By a total transferring of the competence to enforce the law to the municipalities, as the amendment now proposes, the age-limits will be better protected. In the new situation it will be more difficult for youngsters to buy alcohol .This implies that youngsters will drink less and fewer youngsters will end up in the hospital with an overdose. More control consequently means a gain in health.

Municipalities were able to prepare themselves for the new lawDuring the past 2 years 15 municipalities experimented with the enforcement of the Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act. This experiment was, apart from a number of practical problems, successful.. The municipalities that experimented with the new task, want no less than an immediate continuation of this task. Various municipal policy papers took already the new enforcement opportunities into account.
Also for the trade and industry, especially the catering industry, the new law offers concrete advantages in terms of a reduction of administrative tasks.

Youngsters get less opportunity to drink excessively
The new law stipulates that public possession of alcohol by youngsters under the 16 year is forbidden and can be penalized. This regulation offers municipalities among other things a possibility to reduce alcohol related annoyance.
The Union of Local Authorities also thinks that underage drinking (below 16 years of age) should be penalized. This suggested measure is not based on scientific evidence. From research it is known that effective compliance with the rules by suppliers (and parents) and consistent enforcement of the rules leads to the best results.

Municipalities can experiment with 18 year
Establishing an age-limit of 18 years for the purchasing of all alcoholic beverages has a strong social support in society. Scientists already plead during years for raising the age-limit for alcohol-purchasing to 18 years. The new law offers the possibility for municipalities to experiment during two years with a limit of 18 years. Many municipalities have indicated that they want to make use of this, although immediate introduction of one age limit on national scale is preferable.

For more information:
STAP – Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy,
Mr. ir W.E. van Dalen, director
T. 030-6565041/ 06-53295544


Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP
P.O. Box 9769
3506 GT Utrecht
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30-6565041
F: +31 (0)30-6565043