On our first newsletter of the year, I wish you all a fulfilling and healthy 2013. We saw off 2012 with the long-delayed release of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). With stronger measures on tobacco flavouring and the shape of cigarettes and packs, as well as regulating e-cigarettes for the first time, this proposal is good news for the further protection of people’s health across Europe. Yet, the proposal fell short of including plain packaging at EU level.
December also saw two key developments that should not go unnoticed by the reader. Firstly, the December meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) adopted a set of conclusions on Healthy Ageing. The gathering called for a rethink of health systems towards more prevention and for a new Alcohol Strategy to replace the current mandate which ended in 2012 – a plea that EPHA wholeheartedly supports.
Later in the month, the EP adopted a resolution on the threat to health posed by Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). It called for a prudent use of guidelines to reduce exposure to non-essential antibiotics in human medicine, veterinary practice, agriculture and aquaculture. The Resolution falls broadly in line with EPHA position on AMR and takes into account the opinion submitted by the Committee of Agriculture.
On health inequalities, EPHA co-organised two major seminars in the European Parliament. The first, in early December, discussed the need for a comprehensive response to child poverty and health matters at an EU level. The seminar served to assess the flaws of Europe’s fight against child poverty and raise awareness about the overlooked linkage between increasing levels of child poverty and austerity measures. The second event, on January 22, examined the connection between health inequalities and affordable housing. The seminar demonstrated that affordable and decent housing is a key determinant to ensure a productive population able to recover from the crisis. Speakers at the event agreed that good housing is essential to enable children to meet their potential, so expanded public investment in good quality housing is very much needed in the EU.
On the area of food poverty, EPHA, along with various social NGOs, met in January with Emer Costello, Irish Socialist Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur for the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived. As a result, Ms Costello took note of EPHA’s position on Food Aid to Most Deprived Persons on the corresponding report she issued on this topic, which now carries some of EPHA’s recommendations.
During the first half of 2013 Ireland is holding the rotating presidency of the EU. Among Dublin’s public health priorities, cross-border health threats feature high on the agenda. Ireland recognises that cooperation between Member States can make a positive impact in protecting public health across Europe and aims to finalise an agreement with the European Parliament on the Health for Growth Programme. On tobacco policy, Dublin has made clear that the EU needs to do more to protect citizens, particularly children and young people, from the consequences of smoking. The Irish presidency has also stated its commitment to make progress both on the clinical trials and medical devices directives. We are looking forward to strong leadership from Ireland given that key health dossiers will be debated during its term.
Monika Kosińska, EPHA Secretary General
Read all the online articles from our January & February 2013 Newsletter
Highlights from previous weeks
EPHA members can find the following new information in the Members Only section