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Why the EU elections mean a fresh start for patients in Europe

by Catherine Guinard | Analysis

28 April 2014

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The EU flag

Next month, we take to the polls to decide who will make up the next UK contingent in the European Parliament.

Traditionally, European elections have failed to grip hearts and minds in the same way as a general election. But the fact is decisions made in Brussels do impact all of us, every day – and that extends to the way we manage cancer.

From the Tobacco Products Directive to the new Clinical Trials Regulation, EU laws impact on the health of people across Europe.

And there’s so much more that could be done. As with all new beginnings, a refreshed European Parliament breathes new life into the wheels of EU policy making, renewing opportunities for change.

That’s why it’s important for Cancer Research UK to make sure that the next intake of UK Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) can and do stand up for the needs of the medical research community from the get-go.

As a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), we’re asking every UK MEP candidate to commit to health and research needs throughout the course of the next parliamentary mandate.

Medical research – getting the next European Parliament on board

The AMRC’s pledge for medical research is designed to inform tomorrow’s decision-makers about the issues at stake and make sure they are in a position to act on behalf of the patients and researchers they represent.

The pledge comprises four key commitments:

  1. Champion investment in medical research
    • To make sure the EU continues to fund promising avenues of research
  2. Create a place where research can flourish
    • To check all new EU laws are health and research friendly, and that patient data continues to be made available for life-saving research
  3. Ensure people can access effective therapies faster
    • To foster a competitive, European research hub that can bring patients the treatments they need and harness collaboration across the EU
  4. Use research findings to make people healthier
    • To ensure research results are published and that data are made available to the people who need it – meaning research feeds directly into policy making

We’re tracking carefully which MEP hopefuls are signing up to the pledge, and we’re delighted with the support so far. The UK has over 70 MEPs and at the time of writing, some 25 candidates have signed up.

We’ll be using the pledge to hold MEPs to account after the elections and as the parliamentary term gathers pace, and to make sure that successful candidates work hard to make the EU one of the best places in the world to do health and medical research – and so that, ultimately, its citizens continue to benefit.

Catherine Castledine, EU Public Affairs Manager