My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Dawn Primarolo), has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 16 and 17 December. The Health and Consumer Affairs part of the council was taken on 16 December. I represented the UK.
At the meeting, the council adopted conclusions on the French presidency themes of health security on public health strategies to combat neurodegenerative diseases associated with ageing and in particular Alzheimer's disease. The United Kingdom supported the adoption of these conclusions.
The presidency provided a progress report on the proposal for a directive on cross-border healthcare, which was followed by a debate between member states on the directive. The UK intervened to highlight broad support for direction of discussions, which had taken place under the French presidency, and the need to continue to work closely to address our concerns. There was a presentation by the European Commission on the recently published proposal for a council recommendation on European actions in the field of rare diseases, followed by a brief discussion. The UK expressed broad support for the recommendation, but noted it was important that the recommendation ensured the right balance between EU action to promote co-operative action between member states and respect for member state competence for the management and organisation of their healthcare systems.
Over lunch, there was a presentation from the Commission on the work of the council high-level working group on public health and a discussion on forthcoming elections of the World Health Organisation regional director post.
Under any other business, the presidency and the Commission provided information on a range of issues including the recently published pharmaceutical package and Green Paper on healthcare professionals. The incoming Czech presidency provided information on its priorities for health, which it intends to take forward under its presidency.