Healthy environments

Health and environment

It is estimated that a significant part of the total burden of disease in industrialised countries can be attributed to environmental factors. They range from chemicals, food contamination or allergies, indoor and outdoor air quality, soil pollution to housing quality, noise, water and sanitation.

The large burden of respiratory diseases and cancers is of particular concern for European authorities as vulnerable groups such as children are more at risk than adults. Also, the Commission recognizes the complexity of environmental health, as diseases are multi-factorial.
The Commission addresses the issue through an integrated approach across relevant policies, aiming at involving all relevant stakeholders in the policy-making process.

In order to ensure a satisfactory level of good health, the Commission adopted the following approach:

In June 2003, the Commission unveiled an EU Environment and Health Strategy with a particular focus on the health of children. DG Health and Food Safety, DG Environment, DG Research and the Joint Research Centre would work together in acting toward the strategy.

arrowAction Plan
The EU Environment and Health Action Plan (2004-2010) adopted in June 2004 aims at implementing the EU Strategy through 13 action points. Its main goal is to improve knowledge on links between diseases and environmental risk factors. Also, it should integrate environment and health monitoring and response in order to gather information and facilitate communication between authorities working at different levels.

To ensure dialogue and involvement of all relevant stakeholders, a Consultative Group on "Environment and Health"  was set up. Technical Working Groups supported the Commission in developing the Action Plan.

arrowCooperation with WHO Europe
In parallel to its work within the EU arena, the Commission works closely with WHO Europe. The EU Action Plan on Environment and Health was launched in 2004 as Commission contribution to the 4th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health where the WHO Children's Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe (CEHAPE)  was adopted. This was done to enable synergies and collaboration between the two processes.