Stricter approach to juveniles who drink

The Cabinet wishes to deal more strictly with alcohol use among juveniles and will focus on improved enforcement of age restrictions. This is stated in the Memorandum of Amendment to the legislative proposal Licensing and Catering Act. The Council of Ministers has agreed to the amendment being submitted to the Lower Houser upon recommendation by Minister Schippers of Health, Welfare and Sport and Minister Opstelten of Security and Justice.

The Dutch government proposes to make juveniles, who carry alcohol on the public road or in areas accessible to the public such as train stations, covered shopping centres, department stores and cafés, and who are below the age of 16, punishable. This is an expansion of the original proposal in which juveniles could only be fined for carrying alcohol on the public road. The Dutch government intends to make juveniles themselves more responsible for compliance with the age limit in, inter alia, cafés and supermarkets.

The proposal to enable municipalities to experiment with increasing the age limit for purchasing low-alcohol drinks from 16 to 18 will be removed from the legislative proposal. The Dutch government is of the opinion that the current age limits have to be enforced and complied with better first. Absolute clarity about the age limit is important in that connection.

In order to effect this, a large number of measures previously announced in the legislative proposal will be maintained, including:

  • Decentralisation of the supervision of compliance with the Licensing and Catering Act. In future, the municipalities will be responsible for checking, rather than the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (VWA). Supervision will become part of local alcohol policy.
  • The possibility for a mayor to take measures against supermarkets that violate the prohibition on selling alcohol to juveniles below the age of 16 three times within one year.

Simplification of the licensing system will also be maintained in the legislative proposal. This means that in future licence holders will not have to apply for a new licence as often as before. It also means that managers will more quickly and easily be able to start working in catering establishments and liquor stores.