Access to research & innovation at risk in the next EU research programme

12 December 2018

Civil society organisations working on access to medicines have published a reaction to the European Parliament’s position on Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation framework programme.

The Parliament’s own report on Horizon 2020 and FP9, which stressed the “need for sufficient transparency, traceability and a fair level of public return on investment… in terms of affordability, availability and the suitability of end products, and particularly in some sensitive areas such as health, safeguarding the public interest and equitable social impact”. However, we find that the European Parliament has failed to champion its own recommendations to ensure public return on public investment for publicly funded R&I that could address public health needs, and has weakened some key commitments.

We note with concern that open access has been undermined by the European Parliament; access principles will not be applied to biomedical R&I; transparency and traceability of public funding have not been ensured; measures to encourage socially responsible licensing were not supported; and the link between the definition of societal impact and the SDGs remains weak.

Jill McArdle, EU Advocacy Officer at Global Health Advocates, said:

“We are disappointed that the Parliament did not ensure that the considerable public investment that is Horizon Europe will deliver return and benefits for society. It has taken a worrying step back on open access and declined to promote further access to the results of biomedical R&I. EU research and innovation is a public good and should deliver benefits for society, yet Horizon Europe will fail to ensure that potential new products will be accessible, available and affordable for EU citizens.”

Background:

  • In June 2018, the European Commission launched its proposal for the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe, set to begin in 2021 and run for 7 years with a budget of almost 100 billion euros.
  • On Wed 12 Dec 2018, the European Parliament voted to confirm its position on the Regulation and Specific Programme for the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe., ahead of negotiations with the Council of the European Union.

Please contact: jmcardle@ghadvocates.org

Societal impact at risk in European Parliament position on the next EU research programme

12 December 2018

Civil society has published a reaction to the European Parliament’s position on Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation framework programme.

We welcome some improvements within thematic clusters and, more broadly, the recognition of the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, and the role of citizens and civil society. However, we find that the Parliament did not go far enough to ensure public return on public investment in the programme, and has in some places weakened the existing proposal.

We are concerned that: the definition of societal impact improved, its link to sustainable development remains weak; there no guarantee for dedicated funding for projects focusing on addressing societal challenges in Pillar 2; the parliament failed to address the barriers to societal engagement in R&I agenda-setting; open access principles have been undermined by the Parliament; and the explicit support for the major public-private partnerships with industry without commitments to reform them toward societal impact. We are also extremely concerned about the inclusion of the “innovation principle”, an industry-created tool to undermine social and environmental legislation.

Jill McArdle, EU Advocacy Officer at Global Health Advocates, said:

“We are dismayed that the Parliament declined to put in place concrete safeguards in the next research and innovation programme to ensure it benefits society. There are no assurances that sustainable development will not be side-lined in favour of pursuing industrial competitiveness. The Parliament has taken a disappointing step back on open access and opened the door for industry to undermine important health and environmental regulations. Publicly funded research and innovation should respond to society’s needs and be safe to use, and its results should be accessible to the public. Otherwise we risk having public funding that only serves private interests.” 

Background:

  • In June 2018, the European Commission launched its proposal for the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe, set to begin in 2021 and run for 7 years with a budget of almost 100 billion euros.
  • On Wed 12 Dec 2018, the European Parliament voted to confirm its position on the Regulation and Specific Programme for the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe., ahead of negotiations with the Council of the European Union.

Please contact: jmcardle@ghadvocates.org

 

Ensuring a social and sustainable future for Europe: GHA work around EU elections 2019

11 December 2018

In 23-26 May 2019, EU citizens will vote for a new European Parliament. This process will help select the next president of the European Commission, the top job in Brussels. Global Health Advocates (GHA) works with civil society partners in the lead to the European Parliament elections to ensure the next legislature implements policy changes that GHA is advocating for: putting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the core of EU policies, ensuring genuine EU development aid policies, and reaffirming EU’s key role in promoting equitable access to health both within the EU and globally. GHA is engaged in the following civil society activities and initiatives around the 2019 elections:

SDG Watch Europe, an EU-level cross-sectoral alliance of NGOs from development, environment, social, human rights sectors, and a coalition of more than 200 civil society organisations, have launched “Manifesto for a Sustainable Europe for its Citizens” with core demands for the new political leadership of the EU and the candidates in the European Parliament election to put Sustainable Development at the center of their political priorities. You can read the full Manifesto here.

EU Crystal Ball campaign strives to ensure political leaders and advisers put Sustainable Development at the core of the next EU political priorities, by illustrating how political choices will impact the EU and the world in various policy domains. The campaign is led by CONCORD Europe in partnership with GHA, European Environmental Bureau, Transparency International. The campaign page can be found here

European Alliance of Responsible R&D and Access to Medicines has launched its Manifesto “Putting People’s Health First: Improving Access to Medicines in Europe” which reiterates civil society’s calls to ensure public return on EU’s investments in biomedical R&D and adopt public health needs-driven approach for biomedical R&D in the next European Parliament and the new European Commission policies. The Manifesto can be downloaded here

 

For more information, contact Marine Ejuryan at mejuryan@ghadvocates.org

Council supports sustainable development, but more needed to ensure EU R&I delivers benefits for citizens

Civil society has published a reaction to the Council of the European Union’s Partial General Approach on the Regulation for Horizon Europe, the next EU Research Framework Programme.

We are encouraged to note that the Council has improved the proposal in several key areas, including by linking the definition and indicators for societal impact and the Programme objectives to Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement, as well as linking missions and partnerships to societal needs. Also encouraging, recalling the Council Conclusions of Nov 2017, were improved commitments to engage citizens in strategic planning and missions, as well as support for the Commission’s open access plans.

At the same time, we note that gaps remain in terms of safeguarding societal impact, and the following areas could be strengthened: The definition of societal impact, by making clear that societal impact is embodied by the SDGs, such as healthy lives, climate action and sustainable food and farming; Dedicated funding for societal impact in Pillar 2 in the form of guaranteed funding lines for independent, participatory research projects whose objectives and priority setting focus solely on addressing societal challenges; and societal engagement commitments, where a clear roadmap on how Horizon Europe will address barriers to citizen and civil society organisations (CSO) engagement in agenda-setting is still lacking,

Jill McArdle, EU Advocacy Officer at Global Health Advocates, said:

“We are encouraged to see that the Council have reinforced commitments to prioritise sustainable development in Horizon Europe. However, we are still concerned that safeguards are not in place to ensure accountability and societal impact. The blurring of profit-oriented goals with societal impact goals risks limiting the already-scarce funding available for addressing societal challenges, endangers a needs-based R&I agenda, and further excludes citizens and civil society. If the EU is serious about delivering on international commitments like the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, we need concrete guarantees that sustainable development will not be subordinated to private interests in the programme.”

Civil society calls on the European Parliament leadership to prioritise health in the next EU budget

Global Health Advocates, together with the European Public Health Alliance, has initiated a letter addressed to the leaders of the main political groups of the European Parliament calling to increase the funding for health in the next EU long-term budget and re-establish a strong stand-alone Health Programme. The letter is endorsed by 28 health civil society groups and networks from Europe.

The European Parliament is due to adopt its position on the European Commission’s proposal on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) which suggests to merge the current EU Health Programme with other policy areas. The  European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety has already expressed its concern on the withdrawal of health as a separate  programme and proposed to increase the budget at least to the same level as in the current EU budget.

With the upcoming European elections, health should move to the top of the EU’s agenda to ensure the EU can realise its commitment to achieve the health targets of Sustainable Development Goals.

The full civil society letter can be found here. 

Follow the Funding: Nutrition for Growth Progress Report

The World Health Assembly’s 2012 endorsement of global targets to improve maternal and child nutrition by 2020 was a determined effort, echoed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2013 combined pledge for nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive programs, which surpassed USD 24 billion, helped to secure support for the long-neglected imperative to improve child nutrition.

Now, ACTION’s accountability report and scorecard is tracking the scope and implementation of N4G commitments to nutrition. Through consistent and accessible reporting, governments and philanthropic donors allow tracking to be done in an accurate and meaningful way.

In order to reach the SDGs and earlier international pledges for improving nutrition, it is clear that donors must reaffirm their commitments, and increase investment.

You can read the full report here.

Policy Brief: Making the Case for Investing in Nutrition

Generation Nutrition calls on the EU to keep nutrition high in the next multi-annual budget

The EU has committed to support partner countries in reducing the number of stunted children by at least 7 million by 2025. Unfortunately, despite all commitments the world is not on track to reach SDG2 and the EU’s own commitments are achievable only if nutrition continues to be priorities and interventions scaled up. Generation Nutrition, a coalition of Brussels-based civil society organisations therefore urges the European Union to make poverty eradication, combating inequality and the achievement of Agenda2030 central to the objectives of the draft EU regulation for its 2020-2027 development and international cooperation policy and keep nutrition at the core of EU external action.

Read the full policy brief here.

Civil society calls on the European Commission to pledge €580 million for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB & Malaria

GHA, alongside AIDSfonds and Global Fund Advocates Network, have asked the European Commission to pledge €580m to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria before the EU elections of May 2019. One of the best performing global initiatives, since 2002, the Global Fund has already saved 27 million lives. The EU played a crucial role in the establishment of the Global Fund and must now act as a leader on the international stage by committing to the replenishment of the fund for the period 2020-2022. In order to end HIV, TB and Malaria and reach the SDGs, civil society estimates that current pledges need to be increased by 22%, bringing the EU’s fair share to €580 million. In the past, Commissioner Mimica has been a strong supporter of the Global Fund, championing the EU’s responsibility to meet their Agenda 2030 obligations.

If you want more information, you can read the full Global Fund Replenishment – Policy Paper:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civil Society Reaction to the Commission Staff Working Document on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Viral Hepatitis

October 4, 2018

WEAK SIGNALS OF POLITICAL COMMITMENT

Civil society has long been calling on the European Commission to take a leading role in the response to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and viral hepatitis in the EU by putting in place political strategies to effectively combat the three epidemics within the wider European region. In 2017, the European Parliament, in turn, has given a strong signal to the European Commission by calling it to step up its response to the HIV/AIDS, TB and hepatitis epidemics and develop a comprehensive and integrated policy framework to fight the three diseases with a regional approach, given the cross-border nature of the epidemics.

This summer the European Commission published a Staff Working Document on “combating HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis in the EU and neighboring countries”. In the document, the Commission takes stock of EU contributions to tackling the three diseases across several policy areas, and presents the instruments and good practices developed under EU-funded projects. The document shows that the EU has been instrumental in setting policy measures and developing good practices for targeted interventions for tackling HIV/AIDS, TB and viral hepatitis.

By publishing a Staff Working Document, the lowest level policy document on the European Commission’s initiative’s scale, the Commission gives a clear sign that it does not intend to take political commitment and develop further policy for tackling the three diseases in the European region. By limiting itself to a Staff Working Document, which does not have any political power and is only an inventory of actions, the Commission is ignoring the calls for stronger political leadership to address the epidemics.

As members of the EU Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS, TB and viral hepatitis, we believe that the EU can and must do more.

EPIDEMICS ON THE RISE

The three diseases continue to take more lives and cripple the health and well-being of EU citizens and citizens of the immediate neighborhood.

Between 2010 and 2016, there was a 60% increase in the number of new HIV infections within the wider European region, the only region in the world where the rate of new HIV infections continues to rise. TB under its resistant forms continues to account for a quarter of all antimicrobial resistance deaths. By 2050, an additional 2.59 million lives could be lost through drug-resistant TB alone in the EU. The WHO estimates that there are 14 million people affected by hepatitis C across WHO European Region with some 6 million living in the Union alone.

DECREASING FUNDING

Despite this, the EU funding dedicated to actions on three diseases has been gradually decreasing: while in the first EU Health Programme (2000-2006) the share for the three diseases was EUR 19 million, in the second Porgramme (2007-2013) it shrank to EUR 15.6 million. In the 3rd Health Programme (2014-2020) it stands at EUR 11.6 million only, mostly for prevention, harm reduction and other activities for vulnerable groups affected by HIV, TB and viral hepatitis.

The epidemiological situation shows that TB, HIV and viral hepatitis pose the greatest risks for vulnerable and marginalized groups (mostly migrants, sex workers, prisoners, people who inject drugs, LGBTI groups). While across Europe, most vulnerable populations are left behind. They are facing stigma and discrimination and there is limited national political leadership and investments to address their health needs. The social dimension of the diseases is a major factor affecting the ability to tackle them as epidemics and to eliminate them in the EU and in the neighboring countries. Efforts to reach out to vulnerable groups are crucial, and funding for these interventions should be scaled up, not decreased as is currently the case.

LIP SERVICE TO THE SDGs?

In 2016 the EU made a political commitment to support Member States in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by complementing Member States’ actions on HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and TB through legislation and other initiatives.

The Commission Staff Working Document on Combating HIV/AIDS, TB and viral hepatitis in the European Union and neighbouring countries recognizes that significant scale up efforts are needed for the EU to meet the targets for TB, HIV and viral hepatitis set in the SDG. The document shows that several Member States are facing major challenges in meeting internationally agreed targets.

Despite this reality, the EU shows lack of ambition and political leadership in the SDGs implementation. A recent European Parliament briefing on SDGs implementation at EU level concluded that the EU has been focused on technical aspects of implementation (such as indicators) rather than sectoral mainstreaming at political level, with no concrete sectoral goals and actions for achieving SDGs.

We believe that the SDG 3 targets for TB, HIV and hepatitis should be the driving force behind the EU’s policy in these areas with a concrete political road map on how to achieve the targets. The EU should develop a longer term vision and reorient EU budget contributions towards the achievement of SDG 3 for the three diseases, if it’s serious about fulfilling its commitment to achieve the SDGs targets and end TB, AIDS and combat hepatitis by 2030.

HEALTH IN THE EU POST 2020

In the next EU multi-annual budget (2021-2027) the EC has proposed to reduce its health budget to EUR 413 million (8% cut in health funding compared to the 2014-2020 period) and a downgrade of the EU Health Programme into a Health Strand of the enlarged European Social Fund (ESF+).

While merging health with other social areas might be a positive move and create additional synergies between health and social issues, this should not undermine the EU’s leadership on health, and raises a question whether there will be a Health Commissioner in the next legislative cycle, further to Brexit.

 

Contact info: Marine Ejuryan, Global Health Advocates, mejuryan@ghadvocates.org

EU Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis is an informal advisory body established by the European Commission DG SANTE to facilitate the participation of HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis NGOs and networks in European policy development and programme implementation.