European COPD Coalition

Photo Catherine StihlerChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)  affects up to 10% of European adults and is the fourth cause of death worldwide, and is expected to be in third place by 2030 (1). As yet, few EU leaders or policy-makers are aware of this fact. Until this changes, little political action will be given to tackle one of the most acute public health issues in Europe.

“As a first step to effectively address this public health threat, we should get much better at raising awareness of this condition. The Scottish Parliament’s motion on World COPD Day is an excellent example of how to make this happen,” argued Catherine Stihler MEP (S&D, UK – pictured here, at the European Parliament) on the occasion of World COPD Day. (2)

COPD is not curable and treatments only affect symptoms. It includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and given how widespread COPD is, it is unacceptable that this condition has not received more attention in terms of prevention, better care, treatment, research and training of healthcare professionals (3).

COPD infographic_300dpi

COPD deaths increasing annually, yet little or no priority given to COPD by public health and policy makers in many European countries, according to survey released to mark World COPD Day 2014

19th November 2014: Results from a new survey looking at the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) across 11 European countries have highlighted continued low public awareness of COPD,1 despite the condition causing more than 55 times as many deaths as MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus).2,3

[download our infographic]

COPD is a life-threatening lung disease in which the airways are restricted, making it difficult to breathe. It affects up to one in ten adults of the European population and 64 million people die of COPD in the world, every year2.


Inside leaflet Challenge your Lungs WCD14On World COPD Day, 19th November 2014, the European COPD Coalition will challenge the EU staff for them to understand how difficult it is for people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to breathe.

ECC staff will be distributing leaflets at the entrance of the European Commission headquarters (the Berlaymont building), in front of the Directorate General for environment offices all through the 19th November morning and  at lunch time, near the canteen entrance of the European Parliament (EP) Brussels buildings. MEP Catherine Stihler will be supporting ECC’s distribution of information, within the EP.

ECC is asking EU leaders and their staff to “challenge your lungs” by suggesting two exercises: take three set of stairs reasonably fast and/or try breathing through a straw for two minutes. If breathing is easy, readers of the leaflet are requested to consider how difficult these actions may be for people struggling with COPD. If the challenge is proving difficult, readers are advised to see a healthcare professional and take a lung test.

The aim is to raise awareness about the disease and for people working in these buildings to better understand the condition and its impact on everyday life. EU leaders, with better knowledge about COPD will be asked to support an EU regulatory framework to tackle COPD from all its aspects: prevention, care, research, and rehabilitation.

On 5 September 2014 is launched the Healthy Lungs for Life campaign, in support of World Spirometry Day 2014. Healthy Lungs for Life is one of the largest ever lung health campaigns, raising awareness of the importance of healthy lungs to healthcare professionals, scientists, primary care, patients, policy makers and the public through a full range of events, projects and promotional activities.

In 2014, the theme is “Breathe clean air”. At the European level, ERS and ELF are the intiators of events.

In 2014, Healthy Lungs for Life aims to increase knowledge of the impact of poor air quality on lung health and to raise awareness of the actions that everyone can take to protect their own lungs from indoor and outdoor air pollution.

ECC will be present on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 at the Munich Odeonsplatz lung function testing events and cordially invites you to join ECC there.


European citizens voted in May 2014 to renew the European Parliament. 551 Members (MEP) joined on the 1st of July, to represent the 28 Member States of the European Union. How does the EP function? Where do health matters fall in this organisation? A recap.

MEPs decided on which political group they wished to sit, as they are not organised by nationality, but by political affiliation. There are currently 7 political groups in the European Parliament. The biggest groups are the European People’s Party (EPP- christian democrats) and the Progressive Alliance of Social Democrats (S&D), followed by the Group of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE). Each group appointed its coordinators, a bureau and a secretariat. Some Members do not belong to any political group and are known as non-attached Members.

MEPs are all part of standing committees to do the preparatory work for Parliament’s plenary sittings.

There are 20 parliamentary committees. A committee consists of between 24 and 76 MEPs, and has a chair, a bureau and a secretariat

The political make-up of the committees reflects that of the plenary assembly. The parliamentary committees meet once or twice a month in Brussels; their debates are held in public.

The committees draw up, amend and adopt legislative proposals and own-initiative reports; they consider Commission and Council proposals and, where necessary, draw up reports to be presented to the plenary assembly.

Parliament can also set up sub-committees and special temporary committees to deal with specific issues, and is empowered to create formal committees of inquiry under its supervisory remit to investigate allegations of maladmistration of EU law.

The committee chairs coordinate the work of the committees in the Conference of Committee Chairs.

The Health and Environment (ENVI) committee is the second biggest committee, with 69 Members. It deals with human and veterinary health as well as subject related to the environment. However matters related to care, social, professional training and education, medicines or equity may be primarly debated, drafted and taken forward by other Committees, who will involve ENVI only when the first stages of the policy developments have taken place.

These are :

– IMCO: internal market and consumer protection

– ITRE, industry, research and industry

– EMPL: employment and social affairs

– INTA: international trade (it deals in particular with agreements with the USA, on opening market accesss, which could impact EU policies on tobacco control).

More information.