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HEAL welcomes Environment Ministers’ inclusion of “health protection” in 7th EAP

Brussels, 11 June 2012 – The Health and Environment Alliance strongly supports the EU Environment ministers’ call for environmental policy measures, which will help prevent rising rates of chronic disease, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, in the 7th Environmental Action Programme. (1)

The conclusions adopted today by the EU Environment Ministers on “Setting the framework for a Seventh EU Environment Action Programme” urges the Commission to address health and environment in the forthcoming 7th EAP proposal “to ensure the continuation and enhancement of policies to protect human health and the environment.”

HEAL Executive Director, Genon Jensen says: “Ministers are urging the Commission to make sure that health and environment continues to be a priority, and is enhanced. This is good news. Surveys show that citizens all over Europe are concerned about the impacts on their health of exposure to chemicals, air and noise pollution, and climate change.

Just last week the GEO-5 report (Global Environment Outlook) warned that governments will preside over unprecedented levels of degradation if current trends continue. (2)

The report shows that what works is setting goals with specific measures and timelines. HEAL therefore calls on EU Commissioner Janez Potocnik to bring forward a proposal with concrete targets and actions to put Europe on a path to healthy and sustainable development.”

The 7th EAP represents a key policy instrument for tackling environmental factors that result in ill-health. It can help contribute to the achievement of significant health benefits as well as reductions in healthcare costs.

HEAL Senior Policy Advisor, Lisette van Vliet says: “We especially welcome the important recognition that initiatives on EDCs should aim to reduce exposure, especially for children, and that attention must be given to measures to identify and assess chemicals mixtures. The support from Ministers on human biomonitoring is also important, especially given the need for future financing for an EU approach to using this tool in determining population exposure to environmental contaminants.”

“The Ministers have stressed that EU actions on the issues covered in their Conclusions should not wait until the 7th EAP proposal has been adopted. We therefore look to a thorough revision of the EU strategy on endocrine disruptors which formulates a definite framework for swift exposure reduction measures.” Ms Van Vliet continues.

Contacts:

Genon K. Jensen, Executive Director, Health and Environment Alliance, Tel: +32 2 234 3642, Email: genon@env-health.org Lisette van Vliet, Senior Policy Advisor, HEAL, lisette@env-health.org Tel: +32 2 234 36 45. Mobile: +32 484 614 528

Notes:

1. Draft Council conclusions are available at http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/12/st10/st10706.en12.pdf

EP resolution on the 7th EAP available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P7-TA-2012-0147&language=EN&ring=A7-2012-0048

2. http://www.unep.org/geo/pdfs/geo5/GEO5_report_full_en.pdf

Background:

Environmental Action Programmes (EAPs) have been crucial in outlining the direction of EU environmental policy, legislation, and giving direction to EU funding since the first one began in 1973. “Health and environment” is one of four priorities in the 6th EAP and has been a driver for important action in the field, including for example the new pesticides package.

A recent informal paper prepared for DG Environment shows the many challenges that still exist in Europe regarding protecting public health from environmental degradation. (Rappolder Marianne, Environment and Health strategic policy outline, informal paper for DG Environment, European Commission, 15 March 2012 (PDF - 420K - 24/04/2012)) It provides recommendations for future activities in environment and health policy that are intended as a follow up of the European Environment and Health Action plan (2004-2010). It says that the next phase should consider the impact of various environment policies on health and that a cross cutting and strong collaboration among various experts and sectors is needed to allow the consideration of health aspects at an early stage of planning in order to avoid negative health impacts.

Last updated on 15 June 2012

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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