This summer EFA has been busy preparing for a busy autumn, but also replied on behalf of allergy and respiratory patients to a European Commission Consultation on the subject of climate change in Europe; the Presidency of the EU was handed over to Cyprus who will guide European policy-making for the next 6 months; and new rules for the labeling of allergens in wines have recently come into force.
Submission of EFA Response to the EU Consultation on adaptation to climate change
Earlier this summer EFA submitted a response to an EU Public Consultation on adaptation to climate change. The Consultation centred on the EU’s Adaptation Strategy, which aims to improve the EU’s readiness to respond to the effects of climate change. The aim of the Consultation was to collect the opinions European citizens, concerned organisations and experts ahead of the development of the Adaptation Strategy’s next phase. It asked 20 questions relevant to the topic of climate change in the EU, including which groups are considered to be most vulnerable, what role the private sector should play and how Member States can best mitigate its effects.
Based on a document drawn up by HEAL (the Health and Environment Alliance) – of which EFA is a member – EFA’s response to the consultation highlighted the special needs of patients with allergy and respiratory diseases. Among other things, we stressed the necessity to improve the quality of indoor and outdoor air and to establish resourced pollen forecasts and information programmes at European level. The Consultation closed on August 20th. It is hoped that the results will be published in due course, and that the opinion of patient and health organisations will be taken into account in the development of all future EU climate change responses.
Health priorities of the new Cypriot EU Presidency
Cyprusis now at the helm of EU affairs. On the 1st of July this year the island state took over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, and for the next 6 months will be in charge of the smooth functioning of EU activity, promotion of EU policy decisions and consensus building among the 27 member states, in a way that supports the EU’s interests. Similar to the two Presidencies preceding it (Poland and Denmark), the priorities of the Cypriot Presidency have the overall aim of creating a betterEurope by contributing to sustainable growth, job creation and solidarity.
Of interest for EFA’s policy areas, Cypruswill aim to advance negotiations on the Horizon 2020 package, the financial instrument in charge of implementing the EU’s current innovation policy. This has important implications for health research funding across the EU. It has also indicated that enhancing children’s wellbeing and reducing childhood inequalities will be on the agenda, as will the promotion of healthy lifestyles for the aging population, in conjunction with the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. On health issues more generally the Presidency hopes to reach an agreement on the proposal for the third multiannual programme of EU action in the field of health 2014-2020, which funds EU countries’ efforts to improve health and healthcare systems. There will be a focus on chronic diseases, and it says it will highlight the role of prevention and early diagnosis in these. Cyprus also hopes that agreement will be reached on the Directive relating to transparency of measures regulating the pricing of medicinal products (whose ultimate aim is to allow medicines enter the market faster), on the revision of the Directive on clinical trails (which aims to foster the EU as a hub of clinical research by revamping rules on medicine trials), and that discussion on revision of the medical devices legislation will be initiated.
European Commission adopts new rules concerning allergen labelling in wines
New rules have just come into force regarding the labelling of allergens in wines in the EU. From the 30th of June onwards, all wines produced for sale in the EU will be obliged to display the presence certain milk and egg-based allergens on their labels. What’s more, the new rules apply to all wines entering the EU single market, meaning that wines fromAustralia,Latin America and elsewhere will be all subject to the criteria.
Though the allergens in question – casein (milk) and products derived from eggs – are often used in wine production, wine producers have been benefiting from a temporary exemption from displaying this information since 2007. The new Commission rules put an end to this exemption, unless it is clearly proven that such products were not used during production.
The regulations also provide for the use of pictograms on wine labels, to visually inform consumers of the presence of allergens. The EFA Food Allergy Working Group has welcomed this, as it may improve the readability of the information provided to consumers. Press release (in French)
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