Background notes prepared by the Beating Cancer Committee

Ahead of each public hearing, the Beating Cancer Committee prepares a briefing covering a wide range of issues relevant to the topic of the hearing. The following background notes are available:

Protecting workers from asbestos - Briefing

Asbestos is the one of the main causes of work-related cancers, despite its EU-wide ban in 2005. Asbestos-related risks persist and will be a health-risk factor in the context of the European Green Deal 'renovation wave', aimed at helping make buildings fit for a climate-neutral Europe. A legislative-initiative report setting out proposals for a 'European strategy for the removal of all asbestos' (ESRAA) is expected to be put to the vote during the October II 2021 plenary session.
The briefing is prepared by the European Parliamentary Research Service.

Video: Tailoring medicine to patient needs

For a drug to be prescribed to a patient, it must first be rigorously tested for efficacy and safety and subsequently be approved by relevant authoritative bodies, such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

However, the current framework of drug development is heavily 'drug-focused' rather than 'patient-focused'. This means that the end users of the drug, the patients, are not generally placed at the centre of the drug development paradigm.

Medical treatment is insufficiently personalised, especially when fighting cancer. In other words, achieving regulatory approval is seen as the ultimate goal, eclipsing somewhat the use of a drug in its real-world setting. This is not helped by the lack of regulatory demands or incentives for gathering such real world data.

Video contents:

00:00 What is personalised medicine?

01:14 Focus on regulatory approval

02:06 Research gap

02:53 Cost of additional research

03:20 Legislative process: a problem

Alcohol labelling: Briefing and policy podcast

Europe has the highest levels of alcohol consumption in the world. Every day, about 800 people in Europe die from alcohol-attributable causes. The main cause of death due to alcohol in 2016 was cancer (29% of alcohol-attributable deaths), followed by liver cirrhosis (20%), cardiovascular diseases (19%) and injury (18%). Europe's Beating Cancer plan proposes several actions concerning alcoholic beverages.

The proposals include reviewing EU legislation on taxation of alcohol and mandatory labelling of ingredients and nutrient content on alcoholic beverages by the end of 2022. Health warnings on labels should follow by the end of 2023.
The Parliament, in its 2015 resolution on an EU alcohol strategy, has called on the Commission to consider a health warning and calorie content on alcoholic beverage labels. It requested the Commission to present a legislative proposal requiring calorie content on alcoholic beverage labels by 2016.
*This is an update of a Briefing published in April 2021*

What is the European Union doing to fight cancer?

Citizens frequently turn to the European Parliament to ask what the European Union is doing to fight cancer.

Cancer is the second cause of death in the European Union, after cardiovascular diseases. As far back as 1985, the European Union has been fighting the causes and consequences of cancer, even though the main responsibility for health policies lies primarily at national level. Thanks to the dedication of its Members, the European Parliament has passed legislation and made funding available that have helped improve national action plans on the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The EU has also invested in cancer research.

Read more on the commitment of Members of European Parliament in the fight against cancer in the overview (click on the link below).

Report: Health impact of 5G

This report, published in July 2021, aims to take stock of our present understanding of health effects of 5G technologies. It analyses the current state of knowledge of 5G-related carcinogenic and reproductive/developmental hazards as they emerge from epidemiological studies and in vivo experimental studies.

Recent decades have experienced an unparalleled development in wireless communication technologies (mobile telephony, Wi-Fi). The imminent introduction of 5G technology across the EU is expected to bring new opportunities for citizens and businesses, through faster internet browsing, streaming and downloading, as well as through better connectivity. However, 5G, along with 3G and 4G, with which it will operate in parallel for several years, may also pose threats to human health.

The study has been requested by the EP's Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and managed by the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS)of the Secretariat of the EP.

Lessons from a public health crisis: Impact COVID-19 pandemic on cancer care (report)

Cancer care can't wait: the report with the results of the Beating Cancer Committee's survey on the Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer prevention, health services, cancer patients and research has been published in April 2021. Click on the link below to access the full report.

Some of the key recommendations from respondents to the EU and Member States:
  • Build more resilient and equal health systems for disease and crisis preparedness across the EU
  • Increase cross-border collaboration for cancer prevention programmes and other cancer services.
  • Extend the mandate of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
  • Tackle the shortages in medicines, equipment and medical staff by investing in European production and pan-European educational programmes
  • Promote the use of technological solutions in medicine and cancer care
  • Take a more 'holistic' approach to fight cancer, involving all relevant stakeholders.

Briefing: Boosting the European Union's defences against cross-border health threats

On 11 November 2020, the European Commission adopted a proposal on serious cross-border threats to health. The proposed regulation aims to strengthen existing structures and mechanisms for better protection, prevention, preparedness and response against all health hazards at EU level. The European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted its report on 13 July 2021. This is due to be voted during the September plenary session, thus setting Parliament's negotiating position and opening the way for interinstitutional negotiations.This briefing is prepared by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS).

EP Think Tank briefing: Europe's Beating Cancer Plan

On 3 February 2021, on World Cancer Day, the European Commission presented its long awaited Europe's Beating Cancer plan. It is a major initiative under the European health union, a process launched by the Commission on
11 November 2020 with a first set of proposals to reinforce the EU's preparedness and response during health crises.
This briefing includes first reactions from advocacy organisations, sectoral associations and academia.