Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
Sections
You are here: Home topics Health
Document Actions

Public Health Policy in the EU

Latest news on the public health policy of the European Union.

Avian Influenza in The Netherlands and the UK
The European Commission adopted on 17 November two emergency safeguard Decisions addressed to The Netherlands and the UK that define the areas that have been placed under stringent veterinary restrictions by those Member States, and where measures according to EU legislation are applied. The measures aim at quickly bringing the disease under control and at preventing the spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza within the affected Member States, to other Member States and to third countries while minimising the disturbance to trade.

Ebola and health implications for the EU
The current Ebola outbreak affecting the West Africa region is the worst such outbreak on record. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, calling for a coordinated international response. As of 10 October, there have been more than 8399 reported cases, including 4033 deaths from the disease (Source: WHO). To date, 10 patients have been repatriated to the EU/EEA with confirmed or suspected Ebola and the first secondary case of Ebola in Europe has been confirmed on 6 October.

Endocrine Disruptors: Commission Communication
The European Commission adopted on 7 November a Communication outlining its strategy to address the problem of endocrine disruptors, with the aim of protecting consumers against harmful chemicals which change our hormonal system.

New restrictions on use of preservatives in cosmetic products
The European Commission on 29 September further strengthened the protection of consumers, in particular babies and young children. It adopted two measures restricting the use of three preservatives in cosmetic products.

Veterinary medicines and medicated feed proposals
The European Commission adopted on 10 September proposals on veterinary medicines and medicated feed, with the aim of improving animal health and public health, as well as the internal market. The proposal on veterinary medicinal products aims in particular to make more medicines available in the EU to treat and prevent diseases in animals. The proposal on the modernisation of medicated feed legislation now includes feed for pets in its scope. The idea is to ensure the appropriate standard of product quality and safety in the EU, whilst at the same time paving the way for better treatments for diseased animals.

Ebola outbreak in West Africa - EU response
The European Commission announced on 5 September EUR 140m of funding for the countries currently affected by the Ebola virus in West Africa: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. EUR 38 million of the new package is specifically designed to help those governments bolster their health services (for example through reinforcing treatment centres or support for health workers), both during the crisis and in the recovery phase. It will also provide support in the areas of food security, water and sanitation, which are essential in terms of safeguarding the health of the population.

EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020
The European Commission presented on 6 June a new Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014 – 2020, with the aim of better protecting the more than 217 million workers in the EU from work-related accidents and diseases. The new framework identifies key challenges and strategic objectives for health and safety at work and presents key actions and instruments to address these. It aims to ensure that the EU continues to play a leading role in the promotion of high standards for working conditions both within Europe and internationally.

Joint purchasing of vaccines and medicines
The European Commission has approved a Joint Procurement Agreement, which will enable all EU countries to procure pandemic vaccines and other medical countermeasures as a group, rather than individually.

New rules for tobacco products
The European Parliament on 26 February approved a revised EU Tobacco Products Directive. This new law strengthens the rules on how tobacco products are manufactured, produced and presented in the EU, and introduces rules for certain tobacco-related products. This Memo seeks to answer questions on what exactly will change once the revised Directive enters into force.

Third Health Programme 2014-2020
The European Parliament on 26 February approved the Third Health Programme 2014-2020. The Programme aims to support Member States' action to improve people’s health and reduce health inequalities, by promoting health, encouraging innovation in health, increasing the sustainability of health systems and protecting EU citizens from serious cross-border health threats.

Commission consultation on fragrance allergens
A report by the EU's Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) has found allergens in perfume products that have been implicated in problems with skin allergies. The European Commission is now putting the measures to public consultation for three months.

Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS)
The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety provides opinions on health and safety risks (chemical, biological, mechanical and other physical risks) of non-food consumer products (e.g. cosmetic products and their ingredients, toys, textiles, clothing, personal care and household products) and services (e.g. tattooing, artificial sun tanning).

EU Strategy for the Welfare of Animals - mid-point review
The European Commission marks the mid-point of the EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015 in Brussels on 12 February 2014. The event brought together key stakeholders to review the achievements of the strategy to date, and to identify remaining challenges. Government authorities, non-governmental organisations and those who work with animals every day discussed practical issues related to animal welfare and identify key areas for action to improve animal conditions for the strategy’s remaining term and beyond.

Commission proposals on animal cloning and novel food
The European Commission has today adopted three draft laws on animal cloning and on novel food which will provide legal certainty in this field. Two proposals will ban the use of the cloning technique in the EU for farm animals and the imports of these animal clones. The marketing of food from animal clones will also be prohibited. These proposals intend to address animal welfare and other ethical concerns related to the use of the technique. The draft law on novel food revises the existing Novel Food Regulation with a view to improving access of new and innovative food to the EU market, while still maintaining a high level of consumer protection.

Improving the safety of medical devices
The European Commission has adopted two measures to improve the safety of medical devices fulfilling its commitment to restore patient confidence in the medical devices sector following, amongst others, the Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) breast implants scandal. The new rules are a Commission Implementation Regulation clarifying the criteria to be met by notified bodies1, which are responsible for inspecting manufacturers of medical devices, and a Recommendation clarifying the tasks these bodies have to undertake when they perform audits and assessments in the medical devices sector, which covers some 10 000 types of products, from plasters to pacemakers.

'Legal highs' - tackling psychoactive substances across Europe
The European Commission has proposed to strengthen the European Union’s ability to respond to ‘legal highs’ – new psychoactive substances used as alternatives to illicit drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy. Under the rules proposed by the Commission today, harmful psychoactive substances will be withdrawn quickly from the market, without jeopardising their various legitimate industrial and commercial uses. The proposals follow warnings from the EU's Drugs Agency (the EMCDDA) and Europol about the scale of the problem and a 2011 report which found that the EU’s current mechanism for tackling new psychoactive substances needed bolstering.

Serious Cross-border Threats to Health
The EU's ability to cope with serious cross-border health threats such as coronavirus, the 2011 E. Coli epidemic or the 2009 H1N1 flu will be strengthened by legislation voted by the European Parliament on 3 July. The text introduces an early warning system, facilitates joint buying of vaccines and will make it possible to declare an EU-wide emergency in the event of a crisis.

New rules for baby food, special diet food and low-calorie food
The European Parliament on 11 May gave its green light on a set of clearer rules protecting specific groups of consumers such as infants and young children. The aim is to better protect consumers on the content and marketing of these “special” food products, and to provide a better environment for businesses, as well as better application of rules.

New rules to protect EU workers from harmful electromagnetic fields
The European Parliament on 11 June adopted a Commission proposal for a Directive to update and improve EU rules to protect workers from electromagnetic fields in their workplace.

EU strategy to fight cigarette smuggling
The European Commission has adopted a comprehensive package to step up its fight against illicit tobacco trade, especially cigarette smuggling. The illicit tobacco trade is a global threat depriving Member States and the EU of over EUR 10 billion revenue every year in terms of unpaid taxes and duties. Not only does this hit national revenues hard, illicit trade also fuels the shadow economy since it is almost exclusively the domain of organised criminal groups operating across borders. Furthermore, it also undermines health policy initiatives aimed at discouraging the consumption of tobacco products and legitimate business as most illicit products are not made in line with EU rules on tobacco products. To effectively tackle the problem of illicit tobacco trade, the Commission's strategy sets out a number of coordinated measures at national, EU and international level.

Co-ordination Group for Mutual Recognition and Decentralised Procedures - Human, CMDh
The Co-ordination Group for Mutual Recognition and Decentralised Procedures – Human, CMDh, has been set up in the revised Pharmaceutical Legislation (Directive 2004/27/EC amending Directive 2001/83/EC) for the examination of any question relating to marketing authorisation of a medicinal product in two or more Member States in accordance with the mutual recognition procedure or the decentralised procedure.

Patient rights in the EU
European Patients' Rights Day was on 16 May. The European Commission took the opportunity to list some of the rights and benefits afforded to patients in the EU.

European Month of the Brain
At the start of its 'European Month of the Brain' initiative, the European Commission has earmarked some EUR 150 million of funding for 20 new international brain research projects. It will bring the total EU investment in brain research since 2007 to over €1.9 billion. The 'European Month of the Brain' (#brainmonth) will highlight European research and innovation in the area of neuroscience, cognition and related areas through over 50 events across Europe this May. The initiative aims to showcase the latest achievements in the field, but also to urge a more decisive effort to combat brain diseases. It also aims at highlighting how studying the brain can revolutionise computing. The initiative comes as the profile of brain research has been raised recently with ambitious new projects in the EU (FET Flagship Human Brain Project) and the US (BRAIN project).

European test results on horse DNA and Phenylbutazone
Coordinated EU-wide testing for horse meat DNA and phenylbutazone, requested, and co-financed, by the European Commission in the wake of the horse meat scandal, reveal that less than 5 % of the tested products had horse DNA and that about 0.5 % of the equine carcasses tested were found to be contaminated with bute.

Ban on animal testing
The Cosmetics Directive provides the regulatory framework for the phasing out of animal testing for cosmetics purposes. It establishes a prohibition to test finished cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients on animals (testing ban), and a prohibition to market in the European Union finished cosmetic products and ingredients included in cosmetic products which were tested on animals for cosmetics purposes (marketing ban). The same provisions are contained in the Cosmetics Regulation, which replaces the Cosmetics Directive as of 11 July 2013. The testing ban on finished cosmetic products applies since 11 September 2004; the testing ban on ingredients or combination of ingredients applies since 11 March 2009. The marketing ban applies since 11 March 2009 for all human health effects with the exception of repeated-dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics. For these specific health effects the marketing ban applies since 11 March 2013, irrespective of the availability of alternative non-animal tests.