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Guides on the EU Health policy.
Health risks from exposure to noise from personal music players - briefing
Listening to personal music players at a high volume over a sustained period can lead to permanent hearing damage, according to an opinion of the EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) released today. The scientific opinion shows that 5-10 per cent of personal music player listeners risk permanent hearing loss, if they listen to a personal music player for more than one hour per day each week at high volume settings for at least 5 years. The European Commission had asked the independent scientific committee to examine this issue, given the widespread use of personal music players and the surge in the number of young people exposed to such noise. Scientists confirm that there is cause for concern and the European Commission will now examine with EU Member States and stakeholders, possible measures that could be taken to better protect children and adolescents from exposure to noise from personal music players and other similar devices.
EU ban on mercury exports - briefing
The EU Council today adopted legislation banning all exports of mercury from the European Union. The export ban is a key part of the EU's strategy for reducing the global supply of mercury and thereby limiting emissions of the highly toxic heavy metal into the environment. The legislation requires mercury that is no longer used in the chlor-alkali industry – the chemical industry sector responsible for chlorine and caustic soda production – or that is produced in certain other industrial operations, to be put into safe storage once the export ban takes effect in March 2011.
Excise duty on tobacco products - guide
The European Commission presented on 16 July a Report and a proposal for a Directive to amend the current EU excise duty legislation on tobacco. The draft EU Directive foresees a gradual increase in the EU minimum taxation levels on cigarettes and fine cut tobacco up to 2014. It also updates the definitions of different types of tobacco products so as to remove loopholes which allow certain cigarettes or fine cut tobacco to be presented as cigars, cigarillos or pipe tobacco and therefore benefiting from a lower tax rate. Today's proposal will narrow differences between EU Member States' tobacco taxation levels and so help tackle intra-EU tobacco smuggling. It would also make the taxation rules more transparent, thereby creating a level playing field for manufacturers and giving flexibility to Member States to set minimum taxes. It also aims to contribute to reducing tobacco consumption by 10 per cent within the next 5 years.
European Health Insurance Card - guide
Four years after its launch, 173 million people have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in their pocket. Citizens from 31 European countries can use the card to get the medical care they need if they fall ill or have an accident in one of the participating countries (the EU, Norway, Liechtenstein Iceland and Switzerland). The EHIC simplifies procedures and cuts red tape for citizens when disaster strikes during a temporary stay abroad.
Sunscreen products - EU guide
As the holiday season gets underway, the European Commission is alerting consumers to a new sunscreen labelling regime which gives consumers clear information to make informed choices about the products they chose for themselves and their families. Sunscreen products protect from UV radiation and can be effective in preventing sun-burn and skin cancer. Consumers should therefore use sunscreens and clearer labelling should help consumers to make informed choices. The Commission is also seeking to remind consumers that there are several reasons why sunscreen products should be only one out of a number of measures to protect from the UV radiation of the sun. See information, facts and figures and pictograms below.
HIV / AIDS in Europe - guide
AIDS has already claimed the lives of more than 25 million people throughout the world, while an estimated 33.2 million live with HIV – alarming numbers highlighting the need to remain vigilant vis-à-vis one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. To mark World AIDS Day, commemorated every year on December 1 2007, Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou invited European Health Ministers to join him in a pan-European effort to spread common messages on prevention and increasing the awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS among young Europeans. He encouraged ministers to visit schools and 11 countries agreed to participate in this initiative. The Commissioner visited a high school in Cyprus, where he presented a new TV-spot promoting the use of condoms and safer sex and have a chat with teenage students on HIV/AIDS.
European Community Animal Health Policy 2007-13
The European Commission adopted on 19 September 2007 a Communication setting out the EU's animal health strategy for 2007-13. The Communication provides the framework for animal health measures over the next 6 years, taking into account extensive feedback from stakeholders and potential challenges in the future. The Commission's aim is to put greater focus on precautionary measures, disease surveillance, controls and research, in order to reduce the incidence of animal disease and minimise the impact of outbreaks when they occur. The Communication also stresses that all those with an interest in animal health with have clear responsibilities in ensuring that the goals of the new strategy are met, so that the EU's animal health policy is as robust, efficient and effective as possible in the years ahead. It also highlights the need for an integrated approach in animal health policy-making, inter-linking it with other Community policies.
EU influenza research projects
The European Commission announced on 11 September 2007 EUR 27 million of new funding for research projects in the field of influenza. This EC memo outlines the 11 projects pre-selected for funding. Final budget figures (EU contribution) and project details are subject to the final signature of contracts, and so may change. A glossary of terms used in the project descriptions is found at the end of the document.
EU initiatives to promote physical exercise - questions & answers
The European Commission and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) are launching a joint TV advertising campaign that aims to encourage European citizens to make physical activity part of their daily lives. The advert encourages viewers to get out of their armchairs and be physically active, using the slogan "Go on, get out of your armchair'. Millions of Europeans are expected to view the advert, as it will be screened free of charge during the half-time break of this season’s televised Champions League football games. This initiative comes at a time when poor diets and low levels of physical activity in Europe account for six of the seven leading risk factors for ill health in Europe. The lack of physical exercise, coupled with unbalanced diets, has turned obesity into a serious public health problem. In most EU Member States more than half of the adult population is overweight or obese. It is also estimated that almost 22 million children are overweight in the EU and each year this figure is growing by 400,000.
Sunscreen products: EU guide
The European Commission on 9 July 2007 launched an information initiative to alert consumers to a new sunscreen labelling regime which will be phased in from summer 2007. Sunscreen products protect from UV radiation and can be effective in preventing sun-burn and skin cancer. The EC says consumers should use sunscreens, and clearer labelling should help consumers to make informed choices. Through this information campaign the Commission is also seeking to remind consumers that there are several reasons why sunscreen products should be only one out of a number of measures to protect from the UV radiation of the sun.
EU reform of the wine market
The European Commission on 4 July adopted proposals for a wide-ranging reform of the EU's Common Market Organisation for wine. This aims to increase the competitiveness of EU producers, win back markets, balance supply and demand, simplify the rules, preserve the best traditions of EU wine production, reinforce the social fabric of rural areas and respect the environment. Under the proposals, all the inefficient market support measures – various aids for distillation, private storage aid, export refunds – would be abolished from day one. The addition of sugar to enrich wine – chaptalisation – would be banned, and aid for must for enrichment, introduced to compensate for the higher cost compared to chaptalisation, would also be abolished. Crisis distillation would be replaced by two crisis management measures, paid for from national financial envelopes. Much more money would go into promoting EU wine, particularly on third country markets. For a five-year transitional period, planting restrictions would be kept in place and uncompetitive producers would have the possibility to leave the sector with attractive financial support. After 2013, restrictions on planting would be lifted to allow competitive producers to expand their production if they so choose. Labelling rules would be made simpler, certain wine making practices accepted by all producer countries in the International Organisation of Vine and Wine would be adopted by the EU and quality policy would be based on a geographical origin approach. EU Member States would receive a national financial envelope and a menu of actions to allow them to take measures best suited to the local situation. More money would go into Rural Development to fund measures including the setting up of young wine producers and environmental protection.
Health and Nutrition Claims: Questions and Answers
Questions and Answers about the EU Regulation on Health and Nutrition Claims.
The EU and musculoskeletal disorders
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common work-related health problem in Europe, affecting millions of workers. Across the EU27, 25 per cent of workers complain of backache and 23 per cent report muscular pains. Lighten the load, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work's 2007 campaign to tackle MSDs in the workplace, supports an integrated management approach with three key elements. First, employers, employees and government need to work together to tackle MSDs. Secondly, any actions should address the ‘whole load on the body’, which covers all the stresses and strains being placed on the body, environmental factors such as cold working conditions, and the load being carried. Thirdly, employers need to manage the retention, rehabilitation and return to work of employees with MSDs.
Organ donation and transplantation in the EU: questions & answers
The European Commission on 30 May 2007 adopted a Communication proposing actions for closer cooperation between Member States in the field of organ donation and transplantation, and announcing plans for a European Directive on quality and safety of organ donation.
Better Training for Safer Food annual report
The Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General of the European Commission manages the Better Training for Safer Food initiative. This report describes the activity of Better Training for Safer Food in 2006.
Tobacco control in the EU: questions & answers
The majority of European citizens are in favour of smoke-free policies, according to the results of a new Eurobarometer on Tobacco presented by the European Commission to mark World No Tobacco Day on 31 May.
Faster access to better medicines: the Innovative Medicines Initiative
Proposed on 15 May 2007 by the European Commission, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) seeks to overcome research bottlenecks in the drug development process. Its vision is to create real European leadership in biomedical research and development and thereby reinvigorate the European biopharmaceuticals sector as well as benefiting patients and society in general. IMI will embody a new approach to research financing at the European level, bringing together public and private funds, involving industry, SMEs, and non-profit research institutions. IMI was identified as a candidate Joint Technology Initiative when the EU's 7th Research Framework programme was launched at the beginning of 2007.
Public Health in the EU
In a world where people regularly travel between countries and continents, threats to the health of EU citizens from communicable diseases cannot be quarantined within national borders. Diseases caused by smoking, poor nutrition or pollution are a matter of concern in all EU countries. In the EU single market, the safety of pharmaceuticals or blood products is seen as a shared responsibility. While the primary responsibility for health care lies with EU member states, many public health issues are best dealt with through a concerted EU response.
Food Safety in the European Union
Consumer confidence in the safety of food products has sometimes been shaken in recent years by the cumulative impacts of food-related health crises. Responding to the challenge, the European Union has put in place a comprehensive strategy to restore people's belief in the safety of their food "from the farm to the fork".