Europe's beating cancer plan is making progress. Now the European Commission has initiated four more measures.

UM – 02/2022

„Beating Cancer“

The European Beating Cancer Plan turned one year old on 4 February.  It comprises ten flagship initiatives and many complementary measures, and aims to reverse the trend in cancer control. It is feared that the number of cancer deaths will increase by 24 per cent by 2035 if no action is taken. The European Union (EU) has already launched four initiatives and awarded 12 action grants in the first year under the EU4Health programme. Nearly EUR 147 million has been set aside for cancer control in 2022, with the bulk of the money earmarked for prevention (see here).

A lot happened in the first year

Under the leadership of the European Commission, a steering group of representatives from the Member States has been established. This is based on a decision made by a group of experts from 2018 (see here). The steering group is intended to facilitate the implementation of evidence-based examples of good practice by the Member States and to advise the European Commission on the use of research findings. In addition, thematic subgroups, among others, on prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment as well as disparities have been established on a temporary basis. This is also where social security comes into play.  

This was kicked off by SAMIRA

On 5 February 2021, SAMIRA, the action plan for the use of ionising radiation in medicine, was unveiled as the first measure to implement the beating cancer plan (see here).

The Cancer Knowledge Centre in turn implemented the European Commission's first flagship initiative end of June 2021. The online platform is used to collect and process information in order to monitor cancer trends and evaluate countermeasures. It also provides space to coordinate cancer initiatives (see here).

The HealthyLifeStyle4All campaign has also been launched end of September 2021, with the aim of promoting sport, physical activity and healthy eating (see here).

The EU network of centres of excellence in oncology was launched on 13 December last year. The network to be set up by 2025 aims to improve access to quality-assured diagnoses and treatments. The quality of education, research and clinical trials should increase throughout the EU (see here).

New measures

As of February 2022, another of the plan's flagship initiatives, the Register of Disparities, has been implemented (see here). The register aims to make development trends and differences between Member States and regions visible. In addition, the request for comments on cancer screening has initiated a process to develop a proposal for revising the 2003 European Council Recommendations on Cancer Screening. In implementation of the flagship initiative 3, a campaign will be launched to raise awareness about human papillomavirus (HPV) and increase vaccination rates. Member States will be provided with funding for this under the EU4Health programme. The fourth action is the establishment of the EU Young Cancer Survivors Network (for the press release on the new actions, see here).

A number of legislative measures have been initiated

In some cases, legislative measures were explored even before the beating cancer plan was launched. An impact assessment was initiated in June 2021 to revise the labelling regulations for alcoholic beverages. Also last June, consultation was held on the taxation of conventional and novel tobacco products. Revision of the rules on consumer information for food, the establishment of nutrient profiles and consumer information for alcoholic beverages is currently under consultation. The probe into tax rules on foreign-bought alcohol and tobacco kicked off in late 2020 with the aim of reducing tax losses and better protecting public health.   


Among others, the project "Cancer in Childhood, Adolescence and Young Adulthood" is to commence in 2022; in addition, the flagship initiative on imaging techniques in cancer medicine. A list of all measures can be found here. Moreover, with the proposals for a European Health Data Space and on pharmaceutical legislation, major legislation with ...