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Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Volume 447: debated on Monday 12 June 2006

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 1-2 June. The health issues were taken on 2 June. Items on the main agenda were: the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners and Directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs; women's health; promotion of healthy lifestyles and prevention of type 2 diabetes; common values and principles in EU health systems; review of the EU strategy for sustainable development; pandemic influenza preparedness and planning; combating HIV/AIDS; the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on advanced therapy medicinal products and amending Directive 2001/83/EC and Regulation (EC) No. 726/2004; and the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directives 90/385/EEC and 93/42/EEC and Directive 98/8/EC of the European Parliament and the Council as regards the review of the medical devices directives.

The Council adopted the amendments to the additives and sweeteners directives by qualified majority voting. The UK voted in favour of these.

Council conclusions were adopted on women's health and promotion of healthy lifestyles and prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Council conclusions were also adopted on common values and principles in EU health systems. The UK expressed particular support for these, which build on conclusions agreed under the Irish Presidency in 2004, reminding the European institutions of the importance of safeguarding the values and principles that underpin EU health systems in their work.

There was a policy debate on the review of the EU sustainable development strategy. Key themes included: recognition that improved health contributes to economic growth; addressing health inequalities; and the importance of the global dimension in promoting health in less developed countries. The UK spoke about the significant role employers could play in providing healthy workplaces and the value of sharing strategies for improving mental health.

There was an exchange of views on the Commission communication on combating HIV/AIDS within the EU and in neighbouring countries. The communication received broad support and there was wide recognition of the need to focus on prevention activities especially among at-risk groups. The UK emphasised the need for the EU to take HIV/AIDS into account in its near neighbourhood policies and funding.

There was a lunchtime discussion on pandemic influenza preparedness.

The Council received information from the presidency on progress in the ongoing discussions of the Council pharmaceutical working group on the directives on advanced therapy medical products and medical devices.

Under any other business, the Council heard a report from the Presidency on the European Parliament's vote on 16 May that allowed a second reading agreement on the proposed regulation on nutrition and health claims on food, and on the proposed regulation on the addition of vitamins and minerals and other substances to food. Both regulations will come back to Council for adoption once the administrative processes to ensure legal and linguistic consistency have been completed.