Letter from the Minister for Public Health,
Department for Health (Yvette Cooper) to the Clerk of the Committee
HEALTH COUNCIL: 5 JUNE 2001
Susan Deacon MSP, Minister for Health and Community
Care in Scotland, represented the UK.
Council reached agreement on a budget of 280 million
euros for the new framework programme on public health, prior
to negotiations with the European Parliament on a common position.
Agreement reached on a Council Recommendation on drinking of alcohol
by children and adolescents and conclusions were adopted on a
Community alcohol strategy, support for the WHO tobacco framework
convention and on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).
Council reached political agreement to adopt unanimously
a common position on the six year framework programme on public
health, which will replace the existing eight individual programmes.
The main area of contention had been the budget for
the programme. The UK, Germany, Netherlands and Austria supported
a budget of 260 million euros, whereas all other member states
supported the Commission's original proposal of 300 million euros.
A compromise figure of 280 million euros was reached, with Spain
asking that a budget review should be included in the mid-term
evaluation process. The Commission and Greece noted that they
expected the outcome of negotiations with the European Parliament
at second reading to result in an agreement closer to 300 million
On the mechanism for co-ordinating health monitoring
and rapid reaction to health threats, Council agreed to the use
of term 'structural arrangements' instead of 'structure'. The
Commission feared the latter would interfere with its right to
organise their own resources as they saw fit. The Commission made
a declaration undertaking to review, in close collaboration with
member states, the need for further development of such arrangements.
Council agreed France's request to include rare diseases
within the scope of the programme.
Council agreed the Recommendation on drinking of
alcohol by young people. The Recommendation proposes education
and information and self-regulation of promotion, marketing and
retailing to reduce alcohol abuse by children and adolescents.
Council adopted Conclusions inviting the Commission
to put forward proposals for a Community strategy on alcohol,
which would complement national policies, and held a debate to
inform the Commission on what they would like this strategy to
address. The majority highlighted the need for Community action
on gathering and disseminating data and information.
The UK, along with Belgium and Austria, warned of
the need to focus on alcohol-related harm rather than consumption
per se. The UK also warned that any action should be proportionate
and respect subsidiarity principles and highlighted advertising
and excise duties as areas on which agreement to Community action
might prove problematic.
The Commission agreed to review the alcohol advertising
code contained within the Television Without Frontiers Directive
to ensure they are being properly implemented.
Commissioner Byrne presented revised proposals for
a tobacco advertising Directive, which would ban tobacco advertising
in the press, publications, radio, internet and sponsorship (including
free distribution) with a cross-border element. He was keen to
stress the compatibility of these proposals with the ECJ judgement
striking down the previous tobacco advertising Directive.
Council adopted Conclusions expressing the EU's support
for the WHO Framework on Tobacco Control following receipt of
the Commission's report on progress with negotiating the Convention.
Variant Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease (vCJD)/Transmissible
Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE)
The Commission gave an oral update on the epidemiological
situation of vCJD and developments in research, surveillance and
information exchange at Community level. The UK provided information
on progress with a care fund to support CJD patents, measures
to protect against person to person transmission (e.g. single-use
instruments for tonsil surgery) and tenders for research into
diagnostic tests for vCJD and BSE.
Council adopted Conclusions which calls on Member
States to build on existing work on surveillance and prevention
for all TSEs as they affect human health.
The Commission updated Council on their intensified
efforts to ensure that health was being taken into account in
other policies, and their action to co-operate with the candidate
countries on health issues.
Sweden explained that a full report on the Northern
Dimension was due to be presented at the Gothenburg Council and
would include a health element, with particular focus on communicable
diseases and antibiotic resistance.
France called for Health Council to meet twice per
Presidency, receiving support from the Commission and Ireland.
Belgium would not be holding a second Health Council under their
Presidency, but Health Ministers would be invited to their mental
health conference in October, which could be considered an informal
France and Italy gave information on their proposals
for a partnership of hospitals to increase the availability of
anti-AIDS drugs in African countries, urging support from the
Commission and other Member States. No conclusions were reached.
The Commission explained that its action plan on nutrition, announced
in the White Paper on food safety, was still under development
and they could not say when it would be finalised.
Denmark raised the issue of transportation with Schengen
countries of medicines for personal use, and in particular psychotropic
substances and asked that the position be clarified.
28 June 2001