Minister Risikko: In situations posing a threat to human health it must be possible to make decisions at the national level

2.2.2012 15.04
News item N5-59120

"Cooperation between the EU member states is necessary in combating cross-border health threats but the decision-making must be retained at the national level. We have good experience of a swift and open exchange of information between member states in pandemic situations. It is advisable to further develop this exchange of information, but decisions in crisis situations cannot wait until other states give their approval," says the Finnish Minister of Social Affairs and Health Paula Risikko.

Minister Risikko discussed with the Estonian Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur the Commission's proposal for combating cross-border health threats. Pevkur and Risikko will convey small countries' point of view to the EU's decision-making.

The European Commission has proposed that cross-border health threats should be increasingly combated by joint EU measures. Those threats can be for instance communicable diseases, other biological or chemical threats, or threats deriving from the effects of climate change, such as heat waves, cold spells and storms. The proposed decision would reduce the member states' powers in connection with crises where quick decisions and actions may be needed.

The government decided on 2 February to submit a communication dealing with the Commission's proposal to Parliament. The government supports actions to develop the joint crisis preparedness of the EU so that it will be based on voluntary cooperation and exchange of information. The Commission's proposal may delay and weaken the regional and local risk management and crisis communication

Furthermore, ministers Risikko and Pevkur discussed medicines policy. Pevkur was in particular interested in the Finnish Medicines Policy 2020 strategy that was completed last year. The strategy has been prepared, besides by the relevant authorities, by representatives of e.g. the pharmaceutical industry, patients' NGOs, pharmacies and trade organisations. Estonia is considering starting a corresponding work, and therefore Finnish experts have told about their good experiences of the extensive cooperation in the field of medicines.