Germany joins European initiative.

RB – 02/2020

Germany recently became the 21st Member State to join the EU’s 1+Million Genomes Initiative. On 16 January 2020, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn signed the Declaration in the presence of Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. The goal is to have at least one million sequenced genomes in a European database by 2022 and to make them available for research.

What is this initiative about and how do citizens benefit from it?

Genomics has the potential to identify the future risk of diseases such as cancer, chronic diseases and neuropsychiatric disorders. For example, genome sequencing enables doctors to carry out personalised treatment or to identify the effectiveness or risks of a drug therapy in advance.

The European-wide collection of genome sequences will be shared between health authorities and EU Member States, in full compliance with data protection rules and ethical implications. To do this, existing genome databases in Europe will be linked to the European genome database.

The collection, storage and use of the genome sequences will facilitate research into genetic predispositions to complex diseases or the detection of diseases at earlier stages in order to improve preventive measures. The focus of the initiative is to benefit patients.

The signatories have agreed on three main areas of application: cancer, rare diseases, and common and complex diseases.

At the signing ceremony in Berlin, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: ‘I welcome Germany’s signing of this important initiative that will contribute to advancing research and the development of new treatments.’


The initiative is part of the EU agenda for the digital transformation of the healthcare and long-term care sectors. The roadmap for Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan also includes the genome initiative. For example, cancer patients benefit from personalised medicine and the research and development of new treatment methods.