Brussels, 29 October 2003
OPINION of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control ( COM(2003) 441 final - 2003/0174 (COD))
Full text of Opinion in MS Word file on ESC website
Two major factors have prompted the Commission of the European Communities to lose no time in submitting this proposal to establish a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
The first of these is the imminent adoption of the draft treaty establishing a constitution for Europe, which has identified common security problems in the area of public health as a field in which the European Community's powers should be quite substantially increased.
The second is the recurrence in the news of public health problems, which have been emerging around the world over the last twenty years or so, and which may be said to have started with the discovery and explosion of mutant viruses, such as HIV in the early 1980s, and most recently, earlier this year, with the mutation of the Corona virus, which caused a worldwide alert, from China to Canada, with the emergence of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), with its many and complex implications that have yet to be thoroughly assessed.
Not to be forgotten is the emergence over the same period of bio-terrorist threats in Japan and USA.
The European Commission has reacted quickly in the wake of the international health crisis caused by SARS.
The EESC is convinced that there will be many more such threats in future on a range of fronts - chemical, toxic, climatological, viral or microbial - and that these will be aggravated by resistance to treatment, such as in the case of tuberculosis, AIDS, malaria and fast-acting hemorrhagic fevers.
The creation of this Centre is a boost to the EU's public health policy as defined in Treaty Article 152 and provided for in the draft EU constitution, now on the table before the IGC.