MEPs want health and consumer protection programmes kept separate

Two EP committees agree with health and consumer stakeholders that the Commission proposal to merge health and consumer protection programmes should be rejected.

The European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) has rejected the Commission proposal to merge the health and consumer protection programmes 2007-2013 under the same umbrella. The vote in the committee on 31 January 2006 was nearly unanimous, with 54 MEPs voting for the proposal amended by the rapporteur Antonio Trakatellis and one against.

The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) is set to vote on the proposal on 20 February 2006. It is highly likely that it will also reject the Commission’s proposal and adopt an amended version by the rapporteur Marianne Thyssen.

The IMCO Committee’s current draft acknowledges that consumer protection and health possess common features but states that “an amalgamated action programme weakens consumer protection as a policy area in its own right”. The Committee underlines that “the level of support for consumer protection in the new member states is low, both as a concept and in terms of funding. An amalgamated action programme may aggravate these negative consequences further”.

The Council can, technically, still merge the two programmes. However, as both the Parliament and the majority of the health and consumer stakeholders oppose the merger, it is unlikely that the Council will put the proposal back together.

For different stakeholder positions on the proposal, see EURACTIV's LinksDossier on the subject.

On 6 April 2005 the Commission adopted a health and consumer protection strategy and a proposal for creating the Community Programme for Health and Consumer Protection 2007-2013

This is the first time that a merger of these (previously separate) two programmes has been proposed. The aim of the Commission is to improve the existing synergies in these two areas to make the distribution of funds more efficient and to simplify administration. At the Commission's Directorate General (DG) level, health and consumer protection issues are dealt with in the same DG. 

The idea met with a rather cautious welcome from both health and consumer stakeholders. The Conference of Presidents of the EP decided, in May 2005, to split the programme.

  • Council is expected to debate or examine the dossier on 13 March and on 1 June 2006.
  • First reading in the Parliament is set for 16 March 2006.

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