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MEPs call for stronger EU action against cancer

Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer adopted its final proposals on how to strengthen the EU’s role in the fight against cancer.

In the report adopted on Thursday by 29 votes in favour, one against and 4 abstentions, MEPs said that the implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is a first step towards a real European Health Union. The comprehensive strategy addressing cancer at EU level should serve as a model for other non-communicable diseases, MEPs add. Key recommendations put forward by the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) include facilitating access to cross-border health care and clinical trials for cancer patients, extending the use of joint procurement procedures, managing shortages of cancer medicines, guaranteeing the “Right to be Forgotten” as well as ensuring equal access to innovative cancer drugs and treatments. Details on the main calls for action are available here.

The report calls for stronger EU action to address key risk factors and social determinants of cancer, including:

  • recalls that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for many different cancers and calls for, inter alia:

- promotion of actions to reduce and prevent alcohol-related harm within the framework of a revised EU alcohol strategy, including a European strategy of zero alcohol consumption for minors - better information to consumers by improving the labelling of alcohol beverages to include health warning labels and introducing the mandatory indication of ingredients and nutritional information - prohibition of alcohol advertising at sport events when those events are mainly attended by minors and prohibition of alcohol sponsorship of sport.

BECA Chair Bartosz Arłukowicz (EPP, PL) said: “We cannot allow the unequal access to diagnosis and treatment to persist. A woman with breast cancer in one country should not have 25% less chance of surviving cancer than a woman with the same cancer in another country. If we can co-finance building bridges, roads and museums together, as a Union, then we can surely start fighting the biggest killer of our times, cancer. If we work together, if we pool our resources, we can really beat cancer!”

BECA Rapporteur Véronique Trillet-Lenoir (Renew Europe, FR) said: “Our main lever of action is based on ambitious, multidisciplinary, independent, coordinated and adequately funded European research, relying heavily on data sharing and artificial intelligence. Prevention, care and research will be ensured by a European Knowledge Centre, which constitutes a virtual “European Cancer Institute”. EU member states could formalise their commitment to quality practices through a "European Cancer Patients’ Charter", a programme of exchanges of good practice and shared training, guaranteeing solidarity and sustainable cooperation.”

Parliament’s plenary is expected to adopt the report in early 2022.


In June 2020, the European Parliament’s plenary approved the creation of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA), made up of 34 full members. The committee organised an unprecedented consultation process through a series of public hearings, with almost 90 high-level experts who updated members on the latest cancer developments and insights, and provided policy recommendations based on their knowledge and experience on the ground. Members also exchanged views with national parliaments and with international organisations and experts. The committee’s mandate ends on 23 December 2021.

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