The Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases in the European Union
HEC Paris; NYU School of Law
Durham University - Durham Law School
August 17, 2013
Tania Voon, Andrew Mitchell, and Jonathan Liberman, 'Regulating Tobacco, Alcohol and Unhealthy Foods: The Legal Issues', Routledge (Forthcoming)
According to WHO data, NCDs account for nearly 86% of deaths and 77% of the disease burden in Europe. These alarming rates have led the European Union to progressively acknowledge the impact of NCDs on the EU’s economy and the well-being of its citizens. Thus, despite its limited competence in public health, the EU has expressed its commitment to ‘accelerate progress on combating unhealthy lifestyle behaviours’. There is a clear consensus that effective NCD prevention and control strategies must be ‘multi-sectoral’, ‘multi-stakeholder’ and ‘multi-level’. However, unlike most other jurisdictions engaged in NCD prevention policies, the EU only has limited powers in public health matters. Hence the need felt by the EU to experiment also with other forms of policy interventions, such as the exchange of best practice and self-regulation. As a result of these dynamics, the NCD prevention policy which is emerging in Europe is the result of a combination of both regulatory and self-regulatory measures adopted at either EU or national levels. The resulting regulatory landscape is therefore particularly complex. After discussing how the EU has engaged with the NCD prevention and control agenda (I), this contribution will focus on the key constitutional principles constraining EU powers and their exercise in this field (II). It concludes that even though law is not a panacea, it has an important role to play in ensuring that healthy choices are facilitated across the EU. As the fight against NCDs has become a strategic priority worldwide at national, regional and global level, especially in the aftermath of the WHO Global Action Plan for NCDs, the EU must embrace – in light of both its constitutional principles and its international obligations – the challenges that it poses.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 20
Keywords: Public health, European Union, WHO, NCD, Tobacco, Alcohol, Unhealthy diets, Competence, Subsidiarity, Proportionality, Impact Assessment
JEL Classification: K1, K2, K20, K32, K33Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 18, 2013
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