EU civil society committee warns of a “cancer tsunami” unless urgent action is taken to tackle the deadly disease

EESC's warning comes as the EU officially adopts new Coronavirus vaccine certificate - designed to ease travel within the bloc for people who have been fully vaccinated.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

14 Jun 2021

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has warned that the ongoing COVID health crisis is “amplifying” the need for more action to tackle rising cases of Cancer.

They argue that with Cancer set to become the leading cause of death in the EU, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is “timely”, saying the plan “is a milestone in the fight against cancer and its social, financial and psychological impact on EU citizens.”

The EESC adds, “However, unresolved forms of regional and social inequality mean that there is still room for improvement.”

It said 25 percent of the global cancer burden falls on Europeans, and "so it is high time that we all work together to defeat this disease."

The EESC, which represents employers, trade unionists and representatives of social, occupational, economic and cultural organisations, says it strongly supports the European Commission's new €4bn plan to fund action on cancer, the first strategy document since 1990 to focus on the fight against cancer.

Małgorzata Anna Bogusz, rapporteur for the EESC's opinion on Europe’s beating cancer plan, told this site, "The EU needs a new Marshall Plan for Oncology and this is a step in the right direction. We must not waste this chance".

"The EU needs a new Marshall Plan for Oncology and this is a step in the right direction. We must not waste this chance" Małgorzata Anna Bogusz, rapporteur for the EESC's opinion on Europe’s beating cancer plan

“The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for an effective and innovative cancer plan: with healthcare systems focusing on COVID-19, there were inevitably massive delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

"We must address COVID-induced disruption in order to prevent a cancer tsunami."

Bugosz also encouraged EU countries “to be proactive” in the fight against cancer, organising national screening and vaccination programmes as well as support schemes. "A patchwork approach to cancer simply will not work: every region, every social group and every form of cancer must be tackled uniformly."

Meanwhile, on Monday, the respective presidents of the three EU institutions, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission attended the official signing ceremony for the regulation on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, marking the end of the legislative process.

Parliament’s president David Sassoli and Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, along with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa issued a joint statement, saying, “The EU Digital COVID Certificate is a symbol of what Europe stands for. Of a Europe that does not falter when put to the test. A Europe that unites and grows when faced with challenges”

The statement continued, “Our Union showed again that we work best when we work together. The EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation was agreed between our institutions in the record time of 62 days. While we worked through the legislative process, we also built the technical backbone of the system, the EU gateway, which is live since 1 June.”

“We can be proud of this great achievement. The Europe that we all know and that we all want back is a Europe without barriers. The EU Certificate will again enable citizens to enjoy this most tangible and cherished of EU rights – the right to free movement. Signed into law today, it will enable us to travel more safely this summer. Today we reaffirm together that an open Europe prevails.”

“The EU Digital COVID Certificate is a symbol of what Europe stands for. Of a Europe that does not falter when put to the test. A Europe that unites and grows when faced with challenges” Joint statement from David Sassoli, Ursula von der Leyen and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa

Speaking at the G7 meeting in the UK, Council president Charles Michel said, “The priority was to ensure we can meet the demand for vaccines and here the EU has taken the leadership. Partners have now joined us to accelerate production and delivery of vaccines worldwide.”

EU member states have been told they should still continue to strongly discourage all non-essential travel to and from dark red areas. This should also be the case for areas with a high prevalence of COVID-19 variants of concern or interest and for areas with unknown prevalence due to insufficient sequencing.

People travelling from these areas should still be required to be in possession of a negative test certificate and to quarantine or self-isolate.

A council statement said, “Member states could continue to require people travelling from an orange or red area to be in possession of a negative test certificate. If they do not hold such a certificate, people travelling from a red area could be required to quarantine/self-isolate until they obtain a negative test result and people travelling from an orange area could be required to undergo testing after arrival.”

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