In the health sector, the European Commission focuses on wellness rather than disease. Keeping people well and out of hospital beds is key to health sustainability in the future. Thus, policies that push people towards a lifestyle which keeps them in good health need to be developed and promoted.
In consumer policy empowerment is emphasised over protection. Consumers ought to be proactive, especially as the single market develops further, but they need to have the proper leverage to be a full partner in the market. This comes through information and right of redress.
This year will be a very busy one, with a number of proposals to be tabled in the coming months. These include an Animal Welfare Strategy, which will be presented this week.
Upcoming revisions of the Medical Devices Directive and the Medical Trials Directive are another sign that "safety of patients" is at the heart of the Commission's policies. The recent breast implants controversy shows that the EU must remain vigilant and must always react when such unacceptable situation arises.
The European Commission will also promote the Consumer Agenda, a joint effort with Vice-President Reding. The Agenda will provide an integrated approach for consumer policy to ensure that consumers' interests are included in all relevant EU policies.
Finally, in the second half of the year a new Directive on Tobacco Products will be presented, a development which is eagerly expected by NGOs and stakeholder, including the industry. The proposal will tackle crucial issues like flavourings, additives, points of sale and of course packaging.