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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
Mars Di Bartolomeo, Health Minister of Luxembourg at the "Health in Europe" Conference - 13/14 April 2005

Date of release : 18-04-2005

Policy area : Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs

Health Ministers of the 25 countries of the European Union have met in Paris on 13th and 14th April, together with the Commissioner in charge of health and consumer protection, at the invitation of the health Minister of Luxembourg and the Minister for solidarity, health and family affairs of France.

At this occasion, Ministers have agreed on the need to strengthen common efforts to further promote a high level of health protection for all the citizens of Europe.

Ministers, following a detailed discussion and exchanges of views, have taken note that all of the countries of the European Union face common health challenges and it is in everybody's interests to respond actively to these challenges in a co-ordinated manner in accordance with the principles of the Treaty.

Ministers also noted the increased scale and complexity of the challenges to health protection at the European level, as shown by the more recent alerts and crises.

Ministers noted the significant development and improvement in public health protection at the European level, as evidenced by :

- regulations on blood products and human cells

- the autorisation and surveillance of pharmaceuticals

- measures to counter tobacco addiction, including the European anti smoking campaign "Help"

- disease surveillance and control, through the setting up of a European Centre in Stockholm

These improvements show the potentials for Europe to contribute to the development of public health in the future. The proposed new EU Constitutional Treaty contains proposals to develop these competencies in order to further improve the level of public health protection at the European level. One of the major contributions that the European Institutions can make to protecting and promoting health is to facilitate co-operation between the Member States, respecting the Member States' responsibilities for organising and managing their health systems.

Following these discussions, the Ministers have agreed to further intensify actions and efforts to protect the health of European citizens. Ministers held detailed discussions on a number of concrete proposals made by the Presidency and France and agreed to continue discussions in the more formal Council setting. They discussed closer co-operation in three practical fields, which concern directly the health of the European citizens : cancer, hiv/aids, influenza pandemic.

In these three fields, which have been unanimously considered as priorities, Ministers have heard presentations by European experts who have outlined potential solutions which could rapidly allow a stronger co-operation between the 25 Member States, for the benefit of the citizens of Europe.

In the field of cancer, measures proposed by experts would lead to set up an "Alliance against cancer", which will extend to better co-ordination of the national structures for research and spread of guidelines and protocols for diagnoses and treatment as well as exchange best practices.

In the field of hiv/aids, Ministers wish to strengthen the co-ordination of clinical trials in the continuing search for a vaccine, in the context of a comprehensive global response.

Finally, the Ministers have wished to make the building of a higher level of health protection as one of the priorities of the Union. The risk of pandemics makes this measure necessary. It could include reinforcing the health alerts at European level and the co-ordination of national decisions on response to crises, but also the continuation of initiatives for the development and production of vaccines.

In these three fields the Ministers have stressed the necessity to take full account of all aspects of prevention, treatment and research in combating the challenges, by using existing tools in order to avoid duplication of efforts.

They have issued an appeal to reinforce health in Europe by building on the work of the conference. Finally they wished to show their determination to use advances in scientific knowledge to improve co-operation between Member States and at European level.

A 25-nation strong Europe will be stronger in building a Europe that discovers new therapies, that shares current best practices for the benefits of the largest number of people, and that serves as protection against current or future epidemiological threats.

The Presidency and the Commission should ensure the follow up to these proposals.

This page was last modified on : 18-04-2005

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