Launch of EU Parliamentary Intergroup on Cancer

July 1st marked the launch of the first and only EU Parliamentary Intergroup dealing exclusively with cancer: The Challenge Cancer Intergroup. Read the full press release and find out more about this group here.

EU4Health Budget slashed in European Council Deal

Following five days of intense European Council Summit negotiations, EU Heads of State reached an agreement on a €750 billion EU recovery fund and a €1.074 trillion-worth Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027 on 21 July. While hailed as a historical political compromise, the final deal, reducing the budget promised in the European Commission’s EU4Health proposal by over 80%, failed to impress health stakeholders and a majority of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) alike: The Commission had proposed allocating €9.4 billion to the new standalone health programme, of which €7.7 billion would come from the EU recovery fund and €1.7 billion from the 2021-2027 EU budget. However, according to the agreement of the Summit, EU4Health will receive just €1.7 billion from MFF and nothing from the recovery fund.

Expressing her disappointment, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides stated that Brussels will do more for health despite the EU4Health cut and said the €1.7 billion allocated to the programme was, nevertheless, more than the €413 million proposed back in 2018.

In the first plenary following the Summit, MEPs adopted a resolution deploring the cuts made to a range of programmes key to EU’s commitments and priorities, including EU4Health. In the resolution, the Parliament ‘challenges the Council to justify the massive reductions’ in the budgets of Horizon Europe and EU4health among other frameworks, and ‘stresses that it will not be forced into accepting a bad agreement’. As such, MEPs have signalled that they are prepared to withhold their consent for the MFF until a satisfactory agreement is reached in the upcoming negotiations between the Parliament and the Council. The preference is for an agreement by the end of October at the latest for a smooth start of the EU programmes from 2021.

JRC releases 2020 Estimates on the Burden of Cancer in the EU

The European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) has released the 2020 estimates on the burden of cancer in the EU. The 2020 estimates are the outcome of a collaborative project of the JRC and the European Network of Cancer Registries, together with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). They will be included in the forthcoming update of IARC’s GLOBOCAN project later this year.

According to the estimations, female breast cancer continues to be the most diagnosed cancer, with over 355,000 women in the EU-27 diagnosed in 2020. The cancer burden is estimated to have risen to 2.7 million new cases (all types, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) and 1.3 million deaths in 2020.

In general, cancer affects men slightly more than women, with 54% of new cases and 56% of deaths. It also mostly affects older adults, as 2020 estimates reveal that 62% of estimated new diagnoses and 76% of estimated deaths occur in people over 65 years old.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the burden of cancer is not reflected in the 2020 estimates, as these are based on incidence trends from past years. Therefore, a possible overestimation of 2020 incidence rates could be the case for some countries. A more detailed analysis will be able to explain this bias once such data becomes available.

European Cancer Organisation publishes “Strengthening Europe in the Fight Against Cancer: Going Further, Faster”

The European Cancer Organisation has recently published a study on the current state of play in Europe’s battle against cancer, at the request of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).
Entitled “Strengthening Europe in the Fight Against Cancer: Going Further, Faster”, the study covers the following topics:

  • Causes and primary prevention of cancer;
  • Policy needs for achieving earlier detection and diagnosis of cancer, including screening strategies;
  • Means for improving access to cancer treatment, care, and research;
  • Rare and childhood cancers.

Compiled with input from 61 experts over a six month period, the study’s 45 recommendations are intended to provide Members of the European Parliament with a strong evidence-based foundation for their scrutiny and suggestions for the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the EU Cancer Mission and other related initiatives such as the new EU Pharmaceutical Strategy and EU4Health Programme.

“Towards a Cancer Mission in Horizon Europe: Recommendations”

A new paper published in Molecular Oncology provides recommendations for the Cancer Mission.

The paper is a product of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences (EACS) platform, an independent advisory body of eminent oncologists and cancer researchers. The European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) has contributed to the paper and it is represented in the Board of Directors of EACS.

To promote excellence in cancer research and ensure that the Cancer Mission objectives are realised, the paper proposes the establishment of three types of infrastructures focusing on translational research, clinical and prevention trials, and outcomes research. 13 research areas are prioritised, with recommendations for each to achieve key targets.The paper also provides suggestions on how to strengthen patients’ empowerment, improve specialist education and reduce inequalities in cancer research within EU.