Tobacco Products Directive, Clinical Trials and Medical Devices – those are the key legislative dossiers Lithuania aims at making progress in during their Presidency of the Council of the European Union. As Lithuanian Ministers of Health and Environment stressed out to Members of the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament, Lithuania wants to follow in the previous Presidency’s efforts and move forward with important legislation before the upcoming parliamentary elections. With only 4 months left, this might be a challenge.
Apart from the three important legislative dossiers the main priority according to the Health Minister Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis is to draft and adopt Council’s Conclusion on modern, responsive and sustainable health systems. He also pointed out that decision makers should keep in mind the “health in all policies principle” and carry on improving the health literacy of patients in Europe.
Lithuania will work on speeding up the adoption of the Tobacco Products Directive. The proposal introducing pictorial warnings on cigarettes’ packs, ban on slims and flavours and stricter regulation of e-cigarettes is of a major concern for EFA. The negotiations between the Council and the Parliament are expected to be tough, but Lithuania will try to reach an agreement as soon as possible. Linda McAvan, the rapporteur of the Tobacco Products Directive, would be pleased if the Parliament and the Council could agree on the proposal before Christmas to get a good outcome for the public health.
Clinical Trials are another priority of the Presidency. The regulation that aims at improving transparency, safety and competitiveness of clinical trials in Europe is stuck at the Council. According to Minister Andriukaitis, there is still a lot of technical work to be done and the Council is clearly lagging behind. “We need to break the deadlock and find the political will to proceed with the proposal,” Andriukaitis said. Nevertheless, the Presidency will try to reach a General Approach in the Council during the semester.
The discussions on Medical Devices Regulation have been proceeding only slowly. Lithuania will thus try to advance the file and even organise extra technical meetings in order to reach a General Approach during their Presidency. EFA will continue on advocating for enhanced patients’ safety, improved transparency and patients’ involvement in order to guarantee the best possible outcomes for patients in Europe.
Other health related priorities include the directive on transparency regulating the prices of medical products for human use, cross-border health threats directive, revision of the food hygiene package legislation and sustainability of health systems. Lithuania also hopes to proceed with Council Conclusions on chronic diseases, eHealth and EU involvement in the WHO. As the Minister noted, there is not much time left and there is also need for a political will in order to proceed with all dossiers.
In the area of environment, the Lithuanian Presidency wants to focus on issues such as climate change, F-gases, indirect land use and emission trading schemes. As Minister of Environment Valentinas Mazuronis underscored, Lithuania will pay special attention to the Review of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution and associated legislation, as the year 2013 has been declared the European Year of Air and the Commission’s proposal is expected for this autumn. Once the Commission sends its proposal, Lithuania will open and encourage discussions within the Council.
Another legislative dossier EFA is following closely – the F-gas Regulation – will be in the spotlight during Lithuanian Presidency of the Council. Lithuania will seek to have a regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases passed during its term and EFA will try to make sure that needs of patients with allergies and respiratory diseases are taken into account.
The speech of Lithuanian Minister of Health can be found here.