European Economic and Social Committee Update 2018

Section: Engagement in EuropeThe ALLIANCEType: Post

ALLIANCE Director, Irene Oldfather, gives an update on her work as Third Sector Representative on the European Economic and Social Committee

Nutrition Report

This January the European Patients’ Forum published a new position statement on Information to Patients on Food and Nutrition. It asserts that whilst it is well known that unhealthy diets, overweight and obesity contribute to a large proportion of noncommunicable diseases, the role that nutrition plays in both health and chronic disease management is less clear.

The EPF highlight the important role of patient organisations, health literacy and the need to empower patients to understand information about their health and make more informed decisions. They also consider regulation, the prohibitive cost of nutrition (for example, for patients with a gluten intolerance) and research (which is underdeveloped regarding specific chronic conditions).

Irene Oldfather, Director of the ALLIANCE and Third Sector Representative on the EESC, commented that:

“Each of these factors have a significant impact on a patient’s ability to maintain good nutrition. We must ensure that there are no barriers in the future to a level playing field for all patients across the EU.”

The position statement concludes that nutrition has a significant role to play in the prevention, treatment and management of many chronic and long-term conditions, from pre-conception care to care of older people.


Austerity Debate

In February the European Economic and Social Committee discussed the lessons learned for avoiding the severity of austerity policies in the EU. For example, in Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

An opinion was adopted by the EESC, calling for austerity policies to be abandoned and a better balance to be struck between fiscal and social objectives. The EESC recommended that a targeted programme for social recovery be set up in any countries that have been subject to adjustment programmes, and called on the Commission to draw up a European strategy for eradicating poverty in the EU and integrating the homeless as a matter of urgency.

It was also suggested that a minimum living income be introduced, and a universal basic European unemployment insurance be considered to combat changing labour markets.

Irene Oldfather welcomed these proposals adding that:

“People should always come first. Financial responsibilities should never outweigh our human responsibilities. This is exactly the kind of flexibility needed to improve lives.”


A Local Conversation in Campbeltown

On the 15th February the Health and Social Care ALLIANCE hosted a local conversation in Campbeltown, seeking local views on Brexit.

The Scottish Government Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Michael Russell MSP, gave an update on what is at stake and where the negotiations currently stand. However, the focus of the evening was on what mattered to local people in Campbeltown.

Irene Oldfather noted that:

“It was interesting to hear issues that have already been raised in the ALLIANCE’s survey of our members. For example, one resident highlighted that Brexit was already having an effect on the local workforce in Campbeltown, particularly in the health and social care sector, as EU workers begin to feel less welcome.

Concerns were also raised about a lack of youth engagement and, according to another resident, a potential disaster for the local farming industry.

However, the most commonly raised issue was the lack of clarity around the current national debate, and an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty on all sides.”


If you would like further information about anything mentioned, or if you would just like a visit to your organisation or to discuss matters arising, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Irene directly at: