Policy Themes

Health threats

Measures to protect human health cross many sectors and are considered in numerous EU policies and activities.

The European Commission, liaising with member states, ensures that information on cross-border threats to health is exchanged between the mechanisms and structures established under Decision 1082/2013/EU. It also coordinates preparedness and response planning activities, including the monitoring, early warning, and combating of serious health threats.

Following Decision 2119/98/EC, a network for the epidemiological surveillance and control of communicable diseases has been established.  Apart from communicable diseases, there are other dangers to health, such as biological or chemical agents, environmental and climate change related events, that could put the health of citizens in the entire EU at risk, either through scale or severity.

This could affect the ability of society or the economy to function and jeopardize an individual member state’s capacity to react. The legal framework set up under the above decision should, therefore, be extended to cover other threats and provide a coordinated wider approach to health security at EU level.

The decision promotes preparation and response planning through consultation between member states and the European Commission to share best practice and experience. It also highlights the importance of interoperability between national plans and EU level plans.

The Health Security Committee plays an important role in responding to health threats. This is especially the casein crisis preparation, exercises on CBRN events and the listing of pathogens and chemicals which can pose a health threat. The Committee was established by the Presidency Conclusions of 15 November 2001 on bioterrorism and is an informal group made up of high-level representatives from member states.

The European Centre for Disease and Control (ECDC) provides risk assessments for communicable diseases and biological incidents.

More information

Details of projects in this theme can be found on the JRC database