Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

Brussels (BE) - 14/11/13 - 15/11/13

Scientific support for public health: existing actions, new challenges and European added value


The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission is launching an initiative on the topic "Scientific support for public health: existing actions, new challenges and European added value" in Brussels on 14 and 15 November 2013.

Health is central to everybody’s life. It is also crucial to society as a whole since only a healthy population stands to maximise its full economic and social potential.

Maintaining an optimal status of health for European citizens is therefore a fundamental prerequisite for achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy and for empowering Europe to face its many challenges, in particular in view of the ageing of the European population and of the accompanying increase in costs for medical treatment and personal care. Science has an essential role to play in supporting policy making in order to develop effective solutions to improve public health, to maximise healthy years, and thus to guarantee the sustainability of our healthcare systems.

The Member States have the main responsibility for health policy and provision of healthcare to European citizens. There is however an urgent need to achieve a stronger cooperation and a greater harmonisation at EU level in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. The failure to address this is also likely to pose difficulties for the implementation of the up-coming cross-border healthcare Directive and may encourage health “tourism” whereby EU citizens will not only seek to obtain treatment for lower costs but also the best treatment wherever possible. This requires a similar quality for medical treatment in all EU Member States.

The European Commission’s role is by no means to duplicate the work done in the EU Member States but rather to promote coordination as stated in the Lisbon Treaty. There are areas in public health where EU Member States cannot act effectively alone and there is clear added value for intervention at European level. It is here that the European Commission could play an increased role through the aggregation of data and supporting harmonisation across the EU. This will require not only close collaboration with the national bodies but also a well-coordinated and synchronised working approach between the Commission’s services.

As the Commission's in-house scientific service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), with its strong scientific base and independence from national or corporate interests, is well placed to provide scientific support in the field of health.

Over the years, the JRC has developed a number of competences in health and health-related fields mainly through supporting detection, prevention, standardisation and validation of methods. Increasing calls are now being made for more comprehensive support by the JRC to health policies from the European Commission's policy DGs, but also from Member States, patient organisations and the health technology industries.

The Joint Research Centre "Scientific Support for Public Health" initiative is meant to be the beginning of a process. Its aim is to gather policy-makers, scientists, industries and patient organisations in order to have a sustained dialogue about how scientific support can best contribute to protect citizens, to improve health knowledge, to eliminate disparities and to promote health equity across Europe.

An exhibition will give further opportunities of networking and learning about the Joint Research Centre activities in the field of health.


  → Download the Programme in PDF (Latest version: 13/11/2013)


Opening session - Key Note Speech


Session I - Protecting citizens and promoting health equity across the EU: main existing actions

1. Presentation of the EU Reference Laboratories

2. Pre-normative research and standardisation

3. Cancer policy at EU level

4. Rare diseases / Chronic diseases


Session II - new scientific challenges and opportunities

1. Resistance to antibiotics

2. New drugs and vaccines

3. Counterfeit medicines

4. New technologies

5. Smart genomics and ethics

6. Neuroscience


Session III - Enhancing the EU added-value through science

1. Harmonisation in the field of clinical trials and medical devices

2. Aggregation of data at EU level: Towards a European Health Data Bank, the role of the JRC

3. Governance and networking of patient organisations


Practical Information

Dates of conference:

Thursday, 14 November 2013, 09.00 – 18.00 followed by a networking cocktail
Friday, 15 November 2013, 09.00 – 12.30

Venue: Schuman room, Berlaymont building, Mezzanine, rue de la Loi, 200 - 1040 Bruxelles

Exhibition: Hall des Présidents, Berlaymont building, rue de la Loi, 200 - 1040 Bruxelles