Europe: National Associations Council and EuropaBio Heathcare Council and Board Meeting
On 20 March 2013, BIO Deutschland attended the meeting of the National Associations Council (NAC) and the Healthcare Council (HC) in Brussels. Peter Heinrich represented the association at the board meeting.
The NAC meeting participants discussed activities in the individual member states, with the focus of the discussion on the planned European Biotech Week, which is due to take place in the first week of October 2013. The biotech associations in all of the member states will arrange various events and activities with the aim of pointing out the importance of biotechnology and creating greater understanding of its importance among the public. The week will mark the 60th anniversary of the discovery of DNA’s structure by James Watson and Francis Crick. A list of the events is available at www.biotechweek.org. So far, only a few national associations have announced concrete programmes and events for European Biotech Week.
The individual topic groups reported on their work at the HC meeting. The following topic groups are in the HC:
- Economic Affairs Task Force
- Strategic Communications Task Force
- Biosimilars Topic Group
- Personalised Medicine Topic Group
- Combination Products Topic Group
- ATMP Topic Group
- HTA and Market Access Topic Group
All of EuropaBio’s working groups are preparing for the forthcoming European Parliament election. This topic was also on the agenda at the board meeting. In the run-up to this meeting, a delegation from the board, which included Peter Heinrich, met Tonio Borg, the new European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy. The delegation discussed the European Commission’s proposal on clinical trials with Borg, who said that he intended to vigorously oppose any attempts to breach the confidentiality of business, commercial and personal data. The commissioner also said that the report on personalised medicine would be published after the summer recess. The topic of orphan medicinal products and their importance for biotech companies was also briefly discussed during the meeting with the commissioner.
On the topic of agri-food, Commissioner Borg agreed to evaluate the status of the 15 food and feed import files, which are currently being discussed on the Commission level, in order to find out where the problems lie. He also said that he would press for faster processing and authorisation of the documents. Other topics raised with the commissioner included antibiotic resistance, marker genes and technical solutions for the food and seed sectors.
The following topics concerning EU initiatives were discussed at the board meeting:
- Horizon 2020, the EU framework programme for research and innovation, with a focus on the total budget and the time lines.
- The new European Innovation Partnership “Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability”. As the members are heterogeneous (they include EuropaBio and anti-GM NGOs) and have widely divergent interests, it is extremely difficult for them to reach consensus.
- Data transparency: there was discussion on the latest cases in which various authorities grossly breached the confidentiality of the company data of EuropaBio members in unauthorised publications. The board decided to write a position paper on the topic of data transparency as regards innovation and small and medium-sized companies. It also decided to work on this topic with other organisations including EFPIA, Cefic, ECPA, FoodDrinkEurope and Business Europe.