Priorities of the Lithuanian EU Presidency in the field of health

Lithuania is assuming the Presidency of the European Council for the second semester of 2013. In his Speech at the European Parliament, Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, Mr Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, Lithuanian Minister of Health, unveiled the priorities of the Lithuanian Presidency.

He notably stressed that "The main Lithuanian health policy priority for the Presidency is the drafting and adopting of Council conclusions on the modern, responsive and sustainable health systems". He also highligthed that Lithuania would further work on the following issues:

  • Revision of the Tobacco Products Directive (high priority)

Lithuania has confirmed its commitment to continue with Ireland's efforts in this key file. Although the EU Council adopted a General Approach to the directive in June 2013, the negotiations with the Parliament are expected to be tough, so a compromise might be needed. After the 10 July ENVI Committee vote, the Presidency will start technical meetings and proceed to formal trialogues; Lithuania will try to reach an agreement at first-reading with the Parliament, so that Greece only will have to work on technicalities.

  • Proposal for a Clinical Trials Directive (high priority)

Lithuania will build on the work made by the Irish Presidency on the Clinical Trials Directive, which aims at improving EU's competitiveness in clinical research while ensuring the safety and rights of the clinical trials' participants. The Presidency will try to reach a General Approach in the Council during the semester.

  • Proposal for a Medical Devices Directive (high priority)

The medical devices proposals, which objective is to guarantee the confidence in the EU medical devices regulatory system and the access to new and innovative devices, are very complex and technical, so the discussions are being slow. Lithuania has confirmed that this file remains a political priority and will try to make as much advances as possible, organising extra technical meetings if it is necessary, in order to reach a General Approach during its Presidency.

  • Proposal for a Directive on transparency regulating the prices of medical products for human use

The Lithuanian Presidency will work for progressing in this initiative, that wants to increase the transparency in the manner the medicines prices are set and reimbursed and to include them in the scope of public health systems.

  • Cross-border health threats Directive

Serious cross-border health threats are a priority for the Lithuanian Presidency, which will work to finalize a Directive on this issue, aiming at implement cooperation, during the semester.

  • Revision of the Food Hygiene Package legislation

The hygiene package will be revised in the forthcoming months in order to simplify the current notification rules; the Lithuanian Presidency will, as soon as the Commission submits its proposal, start negotiations and look for progressing in the file.

  • Review of the Thematic Strategy on air pollution and associated legislation

Coinciding with the "Year of the Air", the current policies regarding air pollution and quality will be revised in order to improve protection for human health and the natural environment, while contributing to Europe 2020. Once the Commission sends its proposal, Lithuania will open and encourage discussions within the Council.

The Lithuanian Presidency is also hoping to advance other EU legislation on novel food (not yet submitted) and public health.

  • Finalisation of the EU Public Health Programme for the period 2014-2020

Lithuania hopes that the European Parliament will soon reach an agreement on this issue, whose main controversial question are delegated vs. implementing acts.

  • Sustainability of the health systems

The Lithuanian Presidency hopes that the Council adopts its conclusions on modern, responsible and sustainable health systems at the end of the debate on 10 December 2013.

  • Council conclusions on Chronic Diseases; eHealth; and EU involvement in the WHO

Lithuania, that was elected as member of the WHO Executive Board (EB) for the next three years in 2012, will work to guarantee that EU Member States are deeply involved in WHO's work.

Discussions on mandatory country of origin food labeling and Review of the 2007 EU Obesity Strategy, which might have an impact in the field of marketing targeting children.

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