A European spirits body has warned of the dangers of tarring the entire continent with the same brush when it comes to alcohol consumption.

The European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD) has said that a report issued earlier this month by the European Commission - 'Alcohol in Europe' - is based too strongly on Anglo-Saxon science and does not factor in drinking cultures in the south of the continent.

"The conclusion that patterns of drinking across Europe are essentially similar is a false assumption on which to base strategy," the organisation said earlier this month. "EFRD advocates a targeted approach to prevention and education. There is no 'one size fits all' panacea to reduce alcohol-related harm."

The report was written by public health consultant Peter Anderson and is part of the consultation process for a Europe-wide alcohol policy, to be unveiled later this year.

"The report's claim that education alone is not enough to change drinking behaviour reflects the EFRD position that education needs to be combined with enforcement of existing legislation, particularly on drink driving and under-age drinking," the forum added.

"EFRD does not believe that restrictions on alcohol advertising, as called for in the report, are an effective way to reduce harmful drinking behaviour. Nevertheless, the drinks industry has for many years been committed to Responsible Marketing through codes of conduct that sets out clear, independently monitored guidelines on alcohol marketing."

"We believe it would be unfair to responsible consumers in Europe if the Commission were to impose restrictions based on poor science" said EFRD chairman, Alan Butler.