Klára Kabická, July 7, 2018

Austrian Presidency: July – December 2018

The Presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates among the EU member states every six months. The presidency is responsible for the overall functioning of the Council, EU legislature, chairing the meetings and its agendas, setting up work programmes, plans and strategies for the upcoming six months. Currently, the presidency is held by Austria and here are their top health priorities and plans:

Top Priorities:

  • Pharmaceutical Policy: attention will be paid to improving access to innovative health technologies and continuing the debate on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on health technology assessment and amending Directive 2011/24/EU, with the aim of preparing a progress report.
  • Access to medicines is a fundamental pillar of universal healthcare à the lack of medicines and the unequal position of the national market vis-à-vis larger EU countries is a serious problem faced primarily by smaller EU countries.
  • Vaccination and preventable diseases: strengthened cooperation against vaccine preventable diseases à focusing on increasing population coverage and facilitate a more harmonised schedule for vaccination across the EU.
  • This is a current focal topic, as nowadays these diseases occur more heavily across the EU.
  • Tobacco and e-cigarettes: preparation of the common EU position on the topics discussed at the 8th Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
  • Austria has one of the highest smoking prevalence of children aged 15. The current government plans to moderate anti-tobacco policies, nationwide smoking ban in all catering establishments is likely to be annulled. This policy can negatively affect the strength of the EU’s common position at the Conference on Tobacco Control.

Other priorities:

  • Digitization and eHealth à increase the eHealth potential in the digital oriented society.
  • Protection of employees à continue the discussion on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work (second and third batches).
  • Food system à the right nutrition is a key to the better health in EU, efforts to transform the food system that will present a real added value to human health in the EU.

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