The Minister for Health and Labour, Jevgeni Ossinovski introduced the Estonian EU Council Presidency priorities in health policies to the European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. During the presidency, an agreement is expected on how to advance data-based innovation in health and tackle harmful use of alcohol.
"A digital Europe and the free movement of data is one of the overall priorities of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Digital solutions provide people with better opportunities to take care of their health and help health professionals to improve the quality of treatment. Each person should have the right to easily access their own personal health data and decide how this data is used. The EU has to provide the means to do it in a secure and convenient manner in all the member states," said Minister Jevgeni Ossinovski. "For our individual and collective benefit we need to be smart in the way how we use vast amounts of health data, not withhold it from use."
Minister Ossinovski also spoke about tackling harmful alcohol use: "As the holders of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, we consider important to open the discussions on labelling of alcoholic beverages, as it is obviously a cross-border aspect, where more can be achieved at the EU level." Minister Ossinovski also stressed that the single market is functioning based on EU common rules and regulations. "This is the case for safety requirements that have been put in place for a number of consumer products be it toys, cosmetics, tobacco products or pharmaceuticals. Why not for alcohol? According to the estimations, the yearly societal costs of alcohol consumption in the EU can reach up to 372 billion euros."
According to 2016 Eurobarometer study, Europeans consider health and social security as the fourth most important issue facing their country, tied with the threat of terrorism, and just after unemployment, immigration and economic situation.
Health ministers will discuss both issues at their informal meeting in Tallinn on 20-21 July. The Estonian Presidency is also organizing a high-level conference on e-health on 16-18 October (www.ehealthtallinn2017.ee) and a presidency conference on how to tackle cross-border aspects of the harmful use of alcohol on 30-31 October in Tallinn.
The Minister for Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski and the Minister for Social Protection Kaia Iva are in Brussels 11-13 July to present the Estonian Presidency's priorities for health, labour, and social policies.