Intended for healthcare professionals


Health priorities for the European intergovernmental conference

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 07 June 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1637

Long term, multisectoral issues rather than knee jerk political responses

  1. Paul Belcher, European research officera,
  2. Elias Mossialos, Directora
  1. a LSE Health, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE

    Last month, Britain's new prime minister, Tony Blair, called on the European Community to become less obsessed with itself and its institutions and to focus instead on the issues that matter to people. These included, he said, public health, fraud, and the environment. From the start, public health has held only a tenuous foothold within the community, and there had been reports that the community's remit in public health, set out in article 129 of the Maastricht treaty in 1993, would be abandoned. But as a result of the crisis about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), article 129 is now safe, at least in some form, and it will figure on the agenda of the intergovernmental conference on treaty reform this month in Amsterdam.

    Unfortunately, the outcome of any review of the community's role in health may be only a short term response to the problem of BSE. Such knee jerk action is already evident in the European Commission's proposal earlier this year to revise article 129, which tacked on a highly visible reference to actions in the veterinary and phytosanitary fields, even …

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