Raising a glass to the Dutch EU Council presidency
The prosperity of the beer industry and that of Europe are inextricably linked, writes Stefan Orlowski.
For over 60 years, the European Union has played an important role in supporting growth and economic prosperity.
As the global environment becomes even more competitive, its role in preserving Europe's long-term competitiveness is critical. As Europe's largest brewer, we regard this continent as our home.
Our industry is at the heart of the European economy, supporting over two million jobs from barley farmers to bartenders and representing over €53bn in annual tax revenues to European governments. Our prosperity and that of Europe are therefore inextricably linked.
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We welcome the Dutch Presidency's pledge to concentrate on the 'big issues' facing Europe and on building a more focused, innovative and connected EU.
European business needs to increase its competitive edge versus other regions and EU institutions and governments can support this by adopting a balanced and forward-looking regulatory framework.
We also believe that Europe is most effective when it uses its leadership to inspire member states.
We hope that the Presidency's Better Regulation agenda will ensure that action is taken at national level wherever possible and that alternatives to regulation are embraced.
For the brewing sector that means letting member states set alcohol policy according to local culture and circumstances and complimenting existing regulatory frameworks with effective self-regulation, better keeping pace with consumer trends, innovation and digital transformation.
The robust frameworks our company have in place cover everything from how we advertise to informing consumers about responsible consumption.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in how we use our brands to promote moderate drinking. 10 per cent of Heineken's global marketing spend is dedicated to this and the positive messaging is resonating with consumers.
A further example is the voluntary commitment of Europe's brewers to provide consumers with ingredients and nutritional information.
At Heineken we are leading on this and have set the target of providing this information on our labels across all of our brands in the EU by the end of 2016. Europe is Heineken's "centre of excellence" for innovation and we are delighted that this will feature so highly on the Presidency agenda. Key to this will be making the digital single market a reality.
At Heineken we use digital throughout our business to improve efficiencies in our operations, save resources and engage with our consumers. Europe needs a future-proof and business-friendly digital economy. We cannot afford to lag behind.
Finally, the Dutch will focus on building a more connected EU to society and to businesses.
At Heineken we like to say that we have been social networking since 1864 and we welcome this dialogue with open arms.
From a single brewery in Amsterdam, we have grown to become the world's most international brewer. Europe remains at our heart and that is why we are committed to creating a future-proof model for inclusive, sustainable growth.
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