EuroHealthNet responds to EC survey on health taxation from an EU perspective
EuroHealthNet contributed to a study on Health Taxes from an EU perspective, commissioned by the European Commission (DG TAXUD). As announced in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the study aims to conduct an in-depth analysis and provide evidence to analyse the performance of existing health taxes on HFSS (high in fat, sugar and salt) products, including non-alcoholic drinks. It further aims to fill in data gaps and provide the European Commission with evidence to analyse the effectiveness of these taxes, as to inform potential future policy-making in this area, notably from an EU harmonised approach perspective.
EuroHealthNet commented on health taxation’s potential for revenue generation and re-purpose for public health objectives, consumer behavioural change, health impacts, and its social redistributive effects. Whilst welcoming the study and the explicit health taxes focusing on products high in content in sugar, salt and fats, EuroHealthNet argued for ensuring the fiscal policies are part of a comprehensive set of measures, where actions both at individual and wider food environment levels are combined for the most effective and sustainable outcome. In the rising cost of living context, where food and energy prices play a significant role in making healthy dietary choices, raising the price of food products considered unhealthy while lowering the price of health-promoting foods (fresh fruit and vegetables) would make the most sense. A good public health and health economics evidence-based narrative directed to the general public may be needed. EuroHealthNet supports the European Commission’s openness to propose an EU-wide harmonised approach in this field, and encourages the legislators to go beyond creating a repository of good practice only while looking to step up its EU internal market and fiscal powers, living up to the TFEU Article 168 on health in all EU policies.