Greek Health Minister visited the ENVI committee
On January, 22nd the Greek Minister for Health Adonis Georgiades presented the priorities of the Greek Presidency of the European Union to the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. EFA followed the presentation online and even though not all the topics that are essential for people with allergy, asthma and COPD were mentioned or answered, we are happy to see that some of the dossiers we are following closely will be discussed during the semester (such as the regulations on medical devices and on clinical trials). You can watch the video from the meeting here.
ENVI committee vote on Tobacco Products Directive
The ENVI Committee of the European Parliament has voted on the compromised reached last December by the Council of Ministers on the new directive on the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products. The Committee has approved the text and now the only step to go is the vote of the plenary that will take place either in February or March.
Cigarette smuggling discussed at the European Parliament
The Policy Department on Budgetary Affairs and the Committee on Budgetary Control of the European Parliament organised a workshop on cigarette smuggling on January, 22nd to present the state of play of cigarette smuggling in Europe and to identify possible ways to fix this problem. The workshop is a follow-up to the European Commission two-year strategy to tackle illicit tobacco trade in the EU that was published in June 2013 and follows the signature of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Protocol on the Elimination of the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (which still needs to be ratified) and the adoption of the Council conclusions on stepping up the fight against cigarette smuggling and other forms of illicit trade in tobacco products in the EU. The consequences of the adoption of the revised Tobacco Products Directive were analysed and it was shown that there is no evidence of increased illicit cigarettes trade because of graphic health warnings, restrictions on packaging and ingredients’ regulation. However, as Belgian MEP for Greens Bart Staes stated: “The idea that we are winning the battle against smuggling is perhaps not quite true.” The illicit trade in tobacco products costs EU countries €10 billion a year in lost tax revenues. Safety of people and public health concerns should always receive the priority over economic benefits and tax losses.
Updates on Medical Device Regulation
EFA has been advocating for a stronger medical devices regulation to increase patients’ involvement, safety and transparency. The plenary of the Parliament has voted on the text last October, the Council has now to reach a common position on this text. Although we support much of the provisions inserted by the Parliament, there are still some open questions and we sent a letter to the Permanent Representations in Brussels to explain once again our priorities. For more information, click here.
EPF statement on clinical trials
EPF (European Patient Federation) of which EFA is member published a statement on Clinical Trials. The EPF welcomes that the Member States have reached a common position on this legislative proposal. However, it is sad to see that the assessment period has been significantly long and that the Member States sidelined European Parliament’s provisions for patients’ involvement. Nevertheless, the agreement has many positive aspects. Better transparency was secured around clinical trials and the adoption of single submission through an electronic portal, coupled with coordinated assessment, should lead to a more streamlined and efficient assessment of trial applications. EPF as such will continue addressing the gaps in the current text and we will continue supporting this activity.
Skin Prick testing in the European Parliament
From January, 7th to 9th EFA helped EAACI to organise and execute a unique event in the European Parliament, where in cooperation with local doctors and trained experts we offered to everyone interested free skin prick testing. During the event, which took place to promote the awareness about the burden of allergies and to support the Written Declaration on recognising the burden of allergic disease pending in European Parliament, more than 300 people including several MEPs underwent this test. Despite this interest, the Written Declaration did not receive the needed amount of signatures (at least half of the Members of the European Parliament, MEPs). On January, 21st that was the lapse day for this document it had been signed by 177 MEPs. Even though the Written Declaration did not succeed, the mandate of almost two hundred MEPs is strong enough to continue efforts to make lives of people with allergies better and uncompromised.