March has been a momentous month in public health in Europe, not least because on 5 March EPHA launched its Manifesto for the European Parliament elections (22 to 25 May 2014). The last five years have been difficult for many people living in Europe. Unemployment, cuts to social support, lack of access to finance and the impacts of austerity have taken their toll on people, their health and their faith in the political processes and even democracy. In our Manifesto we call on political parties and individual Members of the European Parliament (MEP) candidates to ensure that health and well-being in Europe are ranked as high as they are valued.
For this newsletter we have produced an analysis of the Political Groups of the European Parliament’s take on health-related issues and how they match –or not- with the demands contained in our Manifesto.
Also in early March we published a joint open letter with the European Patients Forum (EPF) in which we propose changes to strengthen the health dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy and ways to engage more with civil society. The European Commission launched its initial mid-term review of the Strategy in early March. In this letter, we urge the Commission to take stock of both: the attention paid to the inclusive growth pillar of Europe 2020; and the progress towards the target. In an earlier joint press release issued following a landmark conference organised by DG SANCO, we stressed the multiple forms of health and other discrimination faced by patients with chronic diseases and vulnerable groups in Europe – as well as the political commitment needed to combat this.
On the 10 March Members of the Environment Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee in the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution (scheduled for vote in the April) calling on the European Commission to develop a new EU Alcohol Strategy. In a joint statement signed by 12 public health organisations, we expressed our delight that the EP acknowledges the urgent need to tackle alcohol related harm, but also voiced our disappointment with the text that the resolution it is planning to adopt.
In one of the more sensitive pieces of legislation related to public health that the EU has been dealing with lately, the Council endorsed the new EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) agreed with the [European Parliament in December 2013. Even if this new tobacco legislation does not set global standards on public health protection, it does update EU Member States tobacco control measures (the previous TPD dates back form 2001) and allows them to adopt more stringent measures to regulate tobacco products, such as standardised packaging.
Last but not least, the dates for EPHA’s 5th Annual Conference “Tectonic tensions - wealthy Europe`s fear of commitment” have recently been announced. The conference, which will take place on 4th and 5th September 2014 in Brussels, will gather high level speakers and thought leaders from European organisations, EU institutions, civil society, and other stakeholders to engage in a constructive debate on the priorities of the EU for the next five years. Keep an eye on our website for further updates on the conference!
Peggy Maguire -EPHA President
Read all the online articles from our MARCH 2014 NEWSLETTER
Other highlights from previous weeks:
EPHA MEMBERS can find the following new information in the members-only section.
EPHA members can support and promote the election Manifesto in a number of ways.