European COPD Coalition

Brussels, 6 June 2017.

To: Jean-Claude Juncker, President, European Commission

cc: Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President, European Commission

Vytenis Andruikaitis, Commissioner, DG Health & Food Safety

Günther Oettinger, Commissioner, DG Budget & Human Resources

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner, Research, Science & Innovation

EU Health Collaboration is crucial for Europe’s future

Dear President Juncker,

We, the undersigned organisations, representing EU health stakeholders, wish to express our grave concern about the future of health in European policies and programmes, in the light of your White Paper on the Future of Europe, and propose an urgent meeting with you and your services on this topic.

Our determined view, shared by the vast majority of EU citizens, is that health is absolutely and unequivocally a core business of the EU. Protection of a high level of human health and wellbeing is entrenched in the Treaties of the European Union[1]. EU collaboration in the field of health is indispensable for the future of Europe and rebuilding the trust of citizens in the European Union. We need more health to unlock the full potential of economic and social policies.

70% of Europeans want the EU to do more for health, according to the most recent Eurobarometer survey. With such a strong, unequivocal demand from EU citizens for more action in the field of health, it is essential that this is not only maintained, but actually enhanced. The EU needs to continue deliver results that make a tangible difference in the daily lives of its citizens and thus re-establish people’s trust in its institutions.

Health protection and improvement is a great success story of the European Union

Life expectancy is rising across the EU. Accession to the Union is positively correlated with health gains and longer lives. Without EU level action and support of the Health Programme, EU citizens would be more at risk from health threats. Whilst there is a need for continuous improvement, protection standards for patients, consumers and workers are amongst the highest in the world, thanks to EU legislation. Indeed, European integration and collaboration has brought great benefits for our health and provides vital resources for our health services: free movement of health professionals, health technologies and patients. We are assured of our right to treatment in other member states, under common minimum safety and quality standards. We are also reassured that, thanks to cross-border collaboration, highly specialised expertise will be shared across borders, as the EU has just embarked in one of its most promising transnational initiatives, the European Reference Networks for Highly Complex and Rare Diseases – an area not only where EU-wide strategies are effective, but also where the added value of EU action is striking.


Quit smoking2

On the occasion of World No tobacco Day, ECC calls the EU and Member States to maintain or develop quit smoking programmes. Smoking is an addiction that needs adequate support and treatment (including, non-pharmacological).

In its 2014 “COPD Standards of Care” study based on a thorough literature review, ECC concluded that smoking cessation is the single most effective measure to slow down the decline of lung function, for smokers with COPD. A full range of evidence-based smoking cessation options should be offered to those in need.

Within the EU funded FRESHAIR project, ECC and consortium members, research how to implement knowledge, inter alia on quit smoking in low and middle income countries, in settings with limited access to care and technology, to improve health outcomes for people at risk of, or suffering from, chronic respiratory diseases in low-resource settings, where the greatest burden of is experienced, by developing capacity for implementation of evidence-based interventions.


Image: healthline

energy performance 2The European Commission tabled a draft Directive on the energy performance in late 2016; ECC together with other stakeholders is calling for health to remain part of the text as t undergoes Parliament and Council discussions and votes.

We spend more than 95% of our time indoors, proper ventilation and insulation are key to protecting our health. Air quality and day light are the main elements that should be taken into consideration within the revision of the existing Directives.

The 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive are the EU’s main legislation covering the reduction of the energy consumption of buildings.

On the 30 November 2016 the Commission proposed an update to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive to help promote the use of smart technology in buildings and to streamline the existing rules. The Commission also published a new buildings database – the EU Building Stock Observatory – to track the energy performance of buildings across Europe.

“Better performing buildings…improve health by reducing mortality and morbidity from a poor indoor climate,” reads the revised EPBD proposal, tabled by the European Commission. But Member States are already indicating that they do not wish to revise the existing Directive and therefore may block the adoption of the text or dilute it entirely. In Parliament, the Rapporteur of the text Bendt Bendtsen (EPP, Denmark) may also face opposition within his own political group.

The Directive mentions: ““Adequately heated and ventilated dwellings alleviate negative health impacts caused by dampness, particularly amongst vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly and those with pre-existing illnesses”.

All logos Letter Conference illicit trade




13 March 2017 – Under the leadership of the Smoke Free Partnership (SFP), a pan-European tobacco control Foundation, ECC joined 29 other health organisations calling EU politicians speakers at an European Commission conference on illicit trade to withdraw from the conference programme, an event sponsored by British American Tobacco (BAT).

As stated in the official letter (see link below): the conference to be held on 22nd of March is organised with steering and funding by a tobacco company, which has input to the programme and provides speakers to this conference. This is against the guidelines to Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which has been ratified by the EU and all its 28 Member States.

The European Union and its Member States, as Parties to the WHO FCTC, are committed to and legally bound to protect its policies from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry. One of the major drivers behind the development of the FCTC was the understanding that the tobacco industry is not just another industry and that normal rules of engagement cannot apply. In a press release, SFP said:

“The tobacco industry has a well-documented history of hiding behind third parties and of sponsoring reputation-building opportunities. This practice is not new in Brussels, where some tobacco companies use trade associations and interest groups, and others use sponsored events, including by online news platforms, to establish links with policy makers. Even so, it is just shameless to hijack the issue of terrorism, a major concern for every single European citizen, to keep selling a product that kills millions.

Johns-Formal-for-webECC learnt today that John Walsh, founder and former CEO of the COPD Foundation (in the US and then global) passed away on 7th of March 2017.

John was an inspirational leader, a passionate advocate for COPD, a compassionate man with a vision and creativity to obtain the means to reach it.

His work with the COPD and Alpha1 Foundations was instrumental to raise more funds for research on the disease, increase access to treatment and put COPD on the political agenda.

“A warm and real gentleman, punchy, determined and  with such charming smile, a great friend too, he will be deeply missed”, said Monica Fletcher, member of ERNA and of ECC.

We are very thankful for his outstanding work for the COPD community.

ECC conveys its warm condolences to his family, friends and the all who loved him. What a brave man he was!
More information and where to send your condolences
Photo: Alpha1 Foundation