HC Deb 25 November 1999 vol 339 cc187-8W
Mr. Hood

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the outcome was of the Health Council held in Brussels on 18 November; and if he will make a statement. [99515]

Ms Stuart

I attended the Health Council on 18 November in Brussels on behalf of the United Kingdom.

The new Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, David Byrne, presented the Commission's fourth report on health protection in other Community policies and his ideas on the future Community public health strategy. This information was welcomed by Ministers and a Council Resolution on health protection in other Community policies was then adopted. The Commissioner reported on the adoption by the Commission of a proposed directive on the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products, which includes changes to the labelling and tar content of tobacco products. Commission reports on progress achieved in relation to public health protection from the harmful effects of tobacco and on developments on the negotiations taking place on the World Health Organisation' s tobacco framework convention were presented. Following an open debate on the general policy of reduction of tobacco consumption, Council Conclusions were adopted on combating tobacco consumption. A Council Resolution was adopted on mental health promotion and progress was noted on a Resolution on antibiotic resistance to be adopted by the Agriculture Council in December. The Presidency reported on health issues beyond the present European Union borders, including: health in the applicant countries; health questions related to the Northern Dimension and the common strategy on Russia; and the euro-mediterranean conference of Health Ministers to be held in December. The Council noted that Conclusions had been adopted at a previous Council on the importance of co-operation with the applicant countries in the sphere of public health. The Commission reported on its plans for a new exchange of letters with WHO to encourage effective working relations. Commissioner Byrne reported on his wide-ranging plans to transform the Community's approach to food safety, including plans to establish a European food agency. The Council took note of progress reports on two pharmaceutical directives covering clinical trials and medical devices. Under any other business, the Netherlands raised its concerns about the impact on domestic health care systems of recent European Court of Justice cases about access to health benefits in other countries.

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