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Kandidaat-eurocommissaris consumentenbeleid ziet groot belang van goed geinformeerde consumenten (en)

Met dank overgenomen van Europees Parlement (EP), gepubliceerd op donderdag 14 januari 2010, 16:45.

"The underlying theme of my work will be Patients First, Consumers First", John Dalli, Commissioner-designate for Health and consumer policy told MEPs during his hearing. He said his vision would be that "European Citizens live a longer and healthier life" and that he wanted "well-informed consumers who can take educated decisions on the goods and services they consume". Furthermore, a focus on prevention would be necessary to secure sustainability in the health sector.

In discussion, MEPs from the committees on the environment, public health and food safety, on the internal market and consumer protection and on agriculture, questioned Mr Dalli on issues such as patient rights, the pharmaceutical package, legislation on food derived from cloned animals, genetically modified organisms, the proposal on food information for consumers, protection of children and the question of collective redress.

Patients rights to be put first in the pharma package

Asked by Peter Liese (EPP, DE), whether he intended to add changes or additions to the proposed Pharma package, he said he intended to move forward quickly with the two non-controversial parts of the package (pharmacovigilance and falsified medical products) but that the third part, on information to patients, would have to be reassessed to "bring more patient perspective in the proposal".

Replying to a question by Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR, UK), on how to strike a balance between the needs of the patients and the industry, he said that he wanted to put patients first, but that this did "not exclude a strong commitment that the pharma industry remains competitive". 

He agreed with Glenis Willmott (S&D, UK), that the health perspective needs to be paramount but added that it would be possible eventually to achieve a "win-win situation". To put forward the patient's perspective he would rely on MEPs and patients' organisations, which "should be properly supported". There was a need for new ideas for funding them, he added in a reply to Peter Liese.

Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE, BG), raised the issues of counterfeit medicines and on-line trade in medicines and consultations. On the first point, Mr Dalli said that counterfeits are "not only a danger to consumers but also to innovation". On the second, he said "I will work hard to make sure that the same controls which apply to the off-line world also apply to the on-line one".

Patient mobility directive to be moved forward

Dalli agreed with Radvilé Morkunaité-Mikuléniné (EPP, LI) that the issue of patients' rights in cross-border healthcare needs to move forward. He said that he would focus his efforts on ensuring that an understanding is reached.

Information is the key to empowering consumers - the earlier the better

Mr Dalli would be tough on issues like alcohol, smoking and obesity, he said in reply to a question by Linda Mc Avan (S&D, UK), about his legacy after 5 years. The key would be informing citizens, not imposing legislation on them. He added that "the earlier we get at children, the better it is" and that "proper budgets are needed".

Replying to a question by Renate Sommers (EPP, DE), about negotiations on the food information issue, he said that the aim is to "empower the consumer" - consumers "must be informed, so they can decide for themselves what is good or bad for them", he said, adding that "I would not want to tell them what to eat, but what they are eating".

"I am the consumer's guardian in the college"

Mr Dalli said  he would be responsible for co-ordinating consumer issues within the Commission and would make sure that any proposal had an input from a consumer angle. "I am the consumer's guardian in the college", he said in reply to concerns voiced by Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D, DE), about a fragmentation of consumer protection rights in the area of services.

Cloned animals - report within a year

Mr Dalli hoped "that within one year we can come up with a report on how to tackle the cloning issue", which will then be discussed with Parliament, he said in reply to questions from Kartika Tamara Liotards (GUE/NGL, NL) and Horst Schnellhardts (EPP, DE).

GMOs - independent scientific advice necessary

Asked by Corinne Lepage (ALDE, FR) on how he would deal with the treatment of GMOs, Dalli said that "the basis of our decisions is science", but that it would be "extra important to ensure that the advice given is independent". He would study the possibility of regular reviews of independence in the different agencies, he added.

On the issue of labelling GMO feed, as requested by Parliament, Mr Dalli promised, in reply to a question by Michail Tremopoulos' (Greens/EFA, EL), "to actively consider and discuss every aspect of the problem".

No animals treated with hormones in the EU

"Animals treated with hormones are not allowed to be imported to the EU" and Mr Dalli "would defend this position internationally", he said in reply to a question by Anna Rosbach (EFD, DK). Rather than see some Member States introduce stricter rules than others, he said he would prefer to "push to have high protection everywhere".

Children

The vulnerability of children, as a consumer group, was also highlighted by some MEPs.  Heide Rühle (Greens/EFA, DE), said that market surveillance was as important as legislation for sensitive products such as toys.

She also questioned whether the new standardisation approach was the right one, since, she said, standards on toys have been too vague until now.  Mr Dalli replied that surveillance capacity-building was necessary since Member States often lack the necessary means.  Zuzana Roithova (EPP, CZ) called for specific standards for children's shoes and Mr Dalli replied that he was ready to work on this topic.

Collective redress

Louis Grech (S&D, MT) asked Mr Dalli to give his views on collective redress, an issue touched upon by the Commissioner-designate in his opening remarks.  Mr Dalli said that he believed that "there is not only the will but also a movement for this" and that he would work together with other Commissioners to develop the legislation.


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