Seasonal EU Policy Updates

Council Conclusions on healthy ageing across the lifecycle

At the European Union’s EPSCO Council meeting (Employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs) on the 7th of December 2012, European health ministers adopted Council conclusions on Healthy Ageing across the Lifecycle. The conclusions build on a September 2012 conference on the topic and call for efforts to foster health promotion, disease prevention and early diagnosis. They are one of the last documents to be launched in the framework of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generation 2012 (see EFA’s briefing on the topic).

EFA was very pleased to learn that the conclusions recognise the necessity to tackle respiratory diseases, and recognise the far-reaching burden of morbidity and disability that they cause(recitals 21 and 39). The conclusions on the whole are patient-focused, emphasise the importance of health promotion, disease prevention programmes and the need for early diagnosis and better disease management.

EFA was also happy to see tobacco use and environmental conditions mentioned as risk factors of health and healthy ageing, and that the conclusions invite Member States and the Commission to promote strategies to combat these risks.

Council conclusions are not legally binding for EU Member States, but they do represent a step in the direction of greater political recognition of the importance of a topic and the challenges it presents. EFA hopes that healthy ageing across the lifecycles, as well as combating the risk-factors that impede it, will continue to feature at the top of the European political agenda.


European Commission publishes 2013 Health Work Plan

On the 28th of November the European Commission published the 2013 work plan to implement the second EU health programme . It sets out the 2013 priority areas and criteria for funding actions under the EU’s second health programme 2008-2013, the five year programme whose overall aim is to improve citizens’ health security, promote health and reduce inequalities as well as generate and disseminate health information and knowledge.

There will be four main priorities for 2013: active & healthy ageing (with a focus on chronic diseases); effective ways to invest in health – also in health workforces; patients’ rights and safety; and advice and data, particularly on sustainable health systems. EFA is particularly pleased to see active and healthy ageing, as well as patients’ rights and safety feature on the priority list, as they are of particular relevance for our disease areas.

The work plan will also support the implementation of legislation in the areas of safety and quality of tissues, cells and blood; cross-border healthcare; and pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

The calls for proposals for projects, conferences and operating grants will be published by mid-December on the website of the Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (EAHC). EFA is currently preparing a briefing on the 2013 work plan. Keep an eye on our website for more.


7th EU Environmental Action Programme published

The European Commission has just published the long-awaited 7th EU Environmental Action Programme. The Programme is entitled ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’, and aims to guide environment policy up to 2020 by providing it with an overarching framework.

EFA was pleased to see that ‘health and well being’ is one of the nine priority objectives of the action programme, and the aim of effectively addressing environment-related threats to health is mentioned. However, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), of which EFA is a member, believes the measures proposed do not go far enough, in particular the actions put forward to reduce exposure to air, noise pollution and hazardous chemicals. It has called, among other things, for stricter targets and timelines on implementation.

The Commission’s proposal will now be considered (through the European Union’s ordinary legislative procedure) by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. Once agreed, the new EAP will become EU law. Ireland, which takes over the Presidency of the Council of the EU in January, has said progressing the Action Programmme in the hope of reaching political agreement is one of its Presidency priorities.

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