The Commission proposal seeks to extend the mandate of the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) to cover all serious cross-border threats to health, and to strengthen the role of the Health Security Committee (HSC). In light of recent crises such as the H1N1 pandemic, the outbreak of E.coli and the volcanic ash cloud, the Commission proposal extends the notion of health threats to cover all heath threats caused by biological, chemical or environmental causes.

Under the leadership of the Cyprus Presidency, the Council has maintained its position that the Decision should not encroach upon the member states’ autonomy in regards of preparedness planning and response. The Commission’s role, in the Council’s view, should be restricted to supporting the creation and implementation of national plans.

In particular, the Council has focused upon:

  • Article 2, outlining the scope of the Decision. The Council has sought to clarify this and proposes the removal of ionising radiation, since this is covered in the Euratom Treaty.
  • Article 4, on information exchange. The Council is discussing the removal of the implementing acts provided for here.
  • Article 7, on ad hoc monitoring. The Commission proposal for an implementing act to cover surveillance of threats not included in the scope of the Decision has not received support in the Council.
  • Articles 12-14, on the recognition for emergency situations. This has been extensively discussed in relation to the emergency production of medicines and has resulted in the replacing of one article with three.
  • Article 17, creating the HSC. The composition of the HSC has been the subject of much discussion, with disagreement between the Commission and the Council as to how many delegates there should be and what level of delegate should be appointed.

Further discussions will take place within the Council, with the aim of enabling the incoming Irish Presidency to engage in negotiations with the European Parliament and move towards a first reading agreement.

Related articles:
- European Parliament Public Health Committee votes on Serious Health Threats proposal
- *Updated* EPHA briefing on health threats from communicable diseases
- European Commission public consultation on Public Health Threats
- EPHA Briefing on Health Security

Last modified on December 11 2012.