Ahead of a major vote in the European Parliament on the future European Commission President, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) sent its priorities to the candidate for President of the European Commission designated by the Council, the German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Ms von der Leyen will present her political guidelines and priorities for the next European Commision to the European Parliament on 16 July. Following this last effort to convince the Parliament that she is the right person for the job, members of the European Parliament will have the power to approve her as President of the European Commission for 2019 until 2024 in a vote.
In a letter HEAL’s Executive Director, Génon K. Jensen, highlights the opportunity to prevent diseases and ill health through ambitious EU policies and frames the co-benefits to health when outlining commitments to building Europe’s sustainable and healthy future. Some examples which illustrate HEAL’s vision of how the EU can protect health through environmental and climate policies include:
- Cutting down environmental pollution can save lives and reduce the toll of diseases.
- Ending environmental health inequalities and protecting the most vulnerable. A polluted environment is most dangerous for children, older people, those already sick and people living in poverty.
- Boosting health by committing to a reduction of 55% in EU emissions by 2030, given that climate change is the biggest health threat of the 21st century, and action to tackle it can provide immediate and significant health benefits.
- Cleaning up the air we breathe in our cities and buildings. Air pollution is the number one environmental threat to health in Europe, leading to 400,000 early deaths each year.
- Reducing everyday exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals that contributes to modern health epidemics – like breast and prostate cancer, obesity and diabetes as well as infertility and learning disorders – by keeping hormone disrupters out of our daily lives, workplaces and consumer products.
The HEAL letter also lists a number of concrete environmental health action the new EU Commission is urged to prioritise, including acting without delay to publish the overdue commitments from the previous European Commission; the 8th Environmental Action programme, a Non-toxic Environment strategy and a European strategy on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).