#EAPM – Blustery times ahead across Europe

| March 8, 2019

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen! (Especially the ladies on what is International Women’s Day, 8 March), writes European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Executive Director Denis Horgan.

Those hats may be precariously perched during the coming week, which is likely to see a whole lot of hot wind blowing across the Channel, largely emanating from the House of Commons in London as MPs come ever closer to finally accepting that they have key decisions to make on Brexit.

And fast.

They do say it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and how well things turn out for Theresa May remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure, the upcoming vote – probably votes – will be no ‘breeze’ for the embattled prime minister. More like Hurricane Brexit.

Perhaps the current fog will be blown away, or perhaps it will still hover menacingly over the UK’s capital.

Donald Tusk, meanwhile, probably hasn’t helped matters by claiming that anti-European forces meddled in the 2016 Brexit vote. Great timing, Donald.

Meanwhile, things are also hotting up in mainland Europe as the EU-wide elections loom large on the horizon. There’ll be even more hot air, for sure, in the run-up to May…

Guy Verhofstadt and Emmanuel Macron have been blowing hard recently, too. Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and now a leading MEP and head of the Liberals in the hemicycle, spoke of ‘a last chance’ saying that the EU risks a populist-nationalist “nightmare” by the middle of the next decade unless centrists can win greater public backing for the European cause.

Writing in The Guardian and several other papers, he expressed the belief that there would be a final opportunity, after the vote, to wrest back ground from nationalists and populists before we all troop off to the polls again in 2024.

An unashamed federalist, Verhofstadt is well aware that the elections could bring about a big shake-up in the parliament, with the usual suspects of the centre-right and centre-left parties expected to lose a majority for the first time in four decades of direct elections.

And, as Parliament’s main man on Brexit, he had a few choice words about the possibility of extending talks between the EU and UK ad infinitum beyond the 29 March leaving date.

“Extending Brexit talks for a long time without a clear outcome from the British parliament in next week’s vote would be “the worst thing” for the EU,” he said, suggesting that we’re all sick-and-tired of it and it’s getting in the way of other weighty stuff.

To be honest, most at EAPM would have sympathy with that, as we of course have lots of continued engagement to undertake with parliament, the commission, member states and their regions in respect of embedding personalised medicine into the EU’s healthcare systems and making these systems sustainable which, right now, they patently are not.

“It is not only a question of time; mentally we are busy with Brexit. In the coming years we have to avoid that we are again busy with Brexit,” Verhofstadt said.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron’s – whose La République En Marche party is expected to win seats for the first time, which should cheer up the liberals – had plenty to say.

In an article published in newspapers right across the Union, Macron – whose ‘“European renaissance” has not surprisingly been endorsed by Verhofstadt – focused on the elections, while having a pop at the Brits who campaigned to leave the EU, of course.

He wrote: “In a few weeks’ time, the European elections will be decisive for the future of our continent.

“Never, since the Second World War, has Europe been as essential. Yet never has Europe been in so much danger.

“Brexit stands as the symbol of that. It symbolizes the crisis of Europe, which has failed to respond to its peoples’ needs for protection from the major shocks of the modern world.

“It also symbolizes the European trap. The trap is not being part of the European Union. The trap is in the lie and the irresponsibility that can destroy it.

“Who told the British people the truth about their post-Brexit future? Who spoke to them about losing access to the European market? Who mentioned the risks to peace in Ireland of restoring the former border? Nationalist retrenchment offers nothing; it is rejection without an alternative. And this trap threatens the whole of Europe: the anger mongers, backed by fake news, promise anything and everything.”

Heady stuff (you may well need those hats), and he didn’t stop there, either. Macron talked about ‘manipulation’ and asked “What country can act on its own in the face of aggressive strategies by the major powers? Who can claim to be sovereign, on their own, in the face of the digital giants?”

Basically Britain, he appeared to be suggesting, is in a bit of a pickle. On the other hand, he took a long, cold look at the state of the EU, too, saying that: “Faced with the major crises in the world, citizens so often ask us, ‘“Where is Europe? What is Europe doing?’”

“It has become a soulless market in their eyes,” he said.


The resident of the Elysée Palace went on to call nationalists “misguided” while conceding in virtually the same breath that now is the time for “European renewal”.

This means “resisting the temptation of isolation and divisions,” he said, adding ”I propose we build this renewal together around three ambitions: freedom, protection and progress.”

At least it wasn’t Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité for once.

Macron also wrote passionately about defending the EU’s freedom, protecting the continent, and recovering the spirit of progress.

He wound up with what he called the “Brexit impasse” which he said is a lesson for us all.

“We need to escape this trap and make the upcoming elections and our project meaningful. It is for you to decide whether Europe and the values of progress that it embodies are to be more than just a passing episode in history. This is the choice I propose: to chart together the road to European renewal,” he said.

Meanwhile, focusing now on those elections, a report has been been prepared by Kantar Public for the Public Opinion Monitoring Unit of the European Parliament’s Directorate-General for Communication.

The report’s objective is to provide the most accurate and up-to-the-minute information on the European political landscape ahead of the polls.

The data was assembled with the contribution of Kantar Public’s national polling institutes in 27 member states. Parliament’s Public Opinion Monitoring Unit and its network of Liaison Offices in all member states provided additional data and insight for the report.

The report provides the latest projection of the European Parliament hemicycle based on the most recent national and European voting intention polls. It also gives details of the projections of the seat allocations for each political group and country.

The full report can be found here.

By comparing the current state of the European Parliament (including the UK) the report suggests that the EPP will lose more than 3% of its seats in May, but will still remain the biggest grouping with its Spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber in pole position to be the next European Commission president.

The socialist groupings are expected to lose a whopping 5.7%, the ECR to lose 3.5% (including the British Tories) and the Greens to remain more-or-less the same.

The liberals look on course to increase their presence by 1.6% with the ENF, largely through gains in Italy, expected to beef up their seats by 3.4%.

Of course, EAPM will continue to engage with each and every party during the election build-up and beyond, representing our members’ and partners’ views on all aspects of personalised medicine, including health-care data sharing, HTA, patient access to the best treatment available, screening programmes and more.

To register for our upcoming Presidency conference, click here and to review the agenda, click here.

Hats off to us, then!


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Category: EU, European Alliance for Personalised Medicine, Health, Personalised medicine

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