Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report

INJURY PREVENTION (10938/06, 10950/06)

Letter from the Chairman to Caroline Flint MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health, Department of Health

  Your Explanatory Memorandum (EM) dated 12 July was considered by Sub-Committee G on 20 July.

  At first sight, we are inclined to agree that this initiative might be worthwhile so long as it is properly thought-through, adopts sensible priorities, respects the competence of Member States and the principles of subsidiarity and takes due account of relevant national differences. We will also want to be satisfied that it will add significant value and will not lead to duplication of effort or impose undue burdens, especially on smaller organisations.

  We are glad to see from your EM that the Government is aware of these risks. We also agree that it is important to be clear where the costs involved will fall. Please report when progress has been made in clarifying these aspects with the Commission.

  As this appears to be essentially a voluntary exercise, we will also want to know how it will be co-ordinated and how potential difficulties over differences of interpretation and comparability of data will be overcome.

  We are not quite clear what is meant by paragraph 22 of your EM. As a general principle, we attach importance to the sharing of sharing best practice. But the choice for communications strategy is presumably between centrally-driven campaigns mounted by the Commission and co-ordinated national campaigns on a common theme. If that is correct, our preference would tend to be for the latter, but your clarification would be welcome.

  Your EM does not mention consultation. We trust that the Government will consult the Devolved Administrations, local authorities and relevant professional groups in this country about the potential implications at an early stage.

  It is not clear from your EM how consideration of these proposals will be carried forward and what timescale is envisaged for consideration by the Council.

  We will hold both documents under scrutiny and would be grateful if you let us have a reply to the above points and a report on any progress soon after Parliament resumes following the Summer Recess.

20 July 2006

Letter from Caroline Flint MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 20 July 2006 in response to the Explanatory Memorandum concerning the above Communication and Recommendation from the Commission to the European Parliament and Council.

  In your letter, you recognise that the Actions for a Safer Europe initiative aimed at injury prevention may be worthwhile, but raised a number of points concerning priorities, added value, the burden of costs and subsidiarity.

  Injury prevention and safety promotion are partly covered by other Community programmes and initiatives. These, though, tend to focus on certain groups of risks (road accidents, workplace accidents, unsafe products, intimate partner violence). This leaves important groups of risks (accidents at home, during leisure time activities) or risk groups (children, adolescents, senior citizens, housewives, handymen, sportspersons) almost uncovered. Fragmentation of the programmes and initiatives has detracted from injury prevention as an important public health matter, and full recognition of the real burden of accidental injury to health.

  Actions for a Safer Europe aims to add value and address these gaps by:

    —  fostering data collection and reporting systems about injuries and their causes at Community and Member State level;

    —  supporting the exchange of information on good practices throughout the Union;

    —  providing tools and guidelines for public health actions on different political levels;

    —  advocating better co-ordination of fragmented actions including suggesting national action plans for injury prevention;

    —  assisting in building up capacities to better tackle injuries eg—by inclusion of injury prevention with existing health promotion programmes and as part of professional health training.

  We have also sought the views of the devolved administrations on the Communication and Recommendation, and are considering ways to assess the implications for other bodies and groups.

  The Communication was included as an information item on the agenda of the Council meeting in June. It is provisionally on the Health Council (30 November) agenda for an "exchange of views", with possible discussion in the health working group in September or October.

  I hope that this information is helpful to you.

20 September 2006

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