Our own Policy and Communications officer attended the latest round of discussions of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Saftey (ENVI) on 26 April. The focus: Europe-wide worry over the drop in vaccination use, and the role of transparency in EFSA’s risk assessments. The discussion was presided by Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, who presented the European Commission’s position as he replied to a variety of questions from Members of the European Parliament. Questions which at times displayed a serious understanding of the issues involved, and at others a complete suspicion of scientific evidence and a troubling instinct to put political views ahead of scientific evidence – and common sense. Although such extreme views were expressed by a minority of people, it serves as a reminder of the need to ensure that scientific knowledge is successfully shared, and that scientific literacy continues to be encouraged.
Commissioner Andriukaitis announced the issuing of a set of recommendations for how the EU can strengthen cooperation in the fight against diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. The Commission’s proposal will put forward 3 pillars for action, including: ‘tackling vaccine hesitancy and improving vaccination coverage, sustainable vaccination policies in the EU, and EU coordination and contribution to global health’. This will be followed by calls for 20 concrete actions to be carried out by the Commission and Member States. You can read the Commission’s press release here.
The proposal will now be discussed by the Council and should be adopted by the end of 2018.