The Presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates every six months among the governments of the EU Member States. During this six-month period, the presidency states chair meetings at each level in the Council of Ministers, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU’s work in the Council. The presidency is responsible for driving forward the Council’s work on EU legislation, ensuring the continuity of the EU agenda, orderly legislative processes and cooperation among the member states.

In January 2016 the new Presidency Trio began to chair the Council of the European Union. It consists of the Netherlands, Slovakia and Malta. All three member states have worked together to develop the trio’s 18-month programme. The programme identifies the main areas and the key tasks the EU Council should address during this period.

The Slovak Republic is holding the rotating Presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2016 (between 1st July and 31st December). The fact that this is the first time Slovakia takes over the six months EU Presidency makes this tasks even more challenging for the ministries and other state institutions.

In the area of public health, the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic will focus on the following priorities:
• Public health security and EU readiness in the event of cross-border health threats such as tuberculosis and antimicrobial resistance
• Prevention of non-communicable diseases – encouraging a healthy lifestyle
• Access to innovative and affordable medicines for patients – especially the availability of medicinal products
• Alzheimer’s disease – the epidemic of the third millenium

Regarding the key issues at ministry’s level, some of these key priorities have been set by presidential countries in the regulation of medicines. In February 2016 the heads of NCAs adopted the HMA’s multi-annual work plan as a strategic document drawn up in Amsterdam. The document sets forth the priorities for the NCA cooperation for the period 2016 – 2020. The Netherlands and the Slovak Republic have finalised four out of the eleven key priorities highlighted below:

Antimicrobial resistance
Availability of appropriately authorised medicines
• Competence development programme through the EU Network Training Centre
• Developing an efficient, effective and collaborative approach on inspections to address sustainability
Innovation and access to new medicines
• International collaboration
Optimisation of the regulatory operations
• Responding to public and animal health emergencies
• Strengthen surveillance
• Implementation of the Telematics strategy
• Support for better use of medicine.

Information related to the four key areas will be discussed as a part of agenda at the HMA meetings hosted by the Netherlands and Slovakia in 2016.

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