Brussels, 16 October 2022
Ladies and gentlemen,
COVID has taught us some difficult lessons and has led us to re-examine our approach to health care. It has shown us that we can only overcome challenges in solidarity, if we work together – and this is certainly true for cancer prevention, treatment and care.
So I am truly delighted to be part of today’s event – which aims to do exactly that: Promote the global knowledge exchange and partnership development in cancer control. In Europe, around 2.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year – and this number is set to grow. The number of lives lost to cancer is also growing – and is predicted to increase by 25% by 2035.
The burden of cancer incidence and mortality is rapidly growing worldwide, too. Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020. We need to take urgent and collective action to reverse this trend.
In the EU, we have responded to this challenge with Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. This is the first Cancer Plan for Europe. It is our ambitious, and comprehensive commitment to cancer prevention, treatment and care.
It represents a modern way of European policymaking, based on a holistic, health-in-all-policies and multi-stakeholder approach.
Crucially, it pursues cooperation beyond the European Union, with international partners, so that we can deliver better outcomes worldwide.
Sustainable, resilient and accessibly health systems are the basis for healthy societies – and we are supporting Member States’ efforts to build exactly that. We have a 4 billion euro budget to deliver what we have promised.
Since the adoption of the Cancer Plan 18 months ago, we have made considerable progress in each priority area – including research and innovation.
We have put in place a Knowledge Centre on Cancer, which allows us to coordinate EU research and innovation efforts.
Research and innovation have also been instrumental in our new guidelines on cancer screening.
Our new approach is based on solid scientific evidence, and reflects the latest developments in cancer screening technologies. This update, the first since 20 years, is a major achievement and an excellent example of cooperation with Member States, the scientific community and experts.
These new guidelines are not only a major achievement for us in the EU. They can also be an inspiration for other parts of the world in their fight against cancer.
Tackling inequalities is another crucial focus of our Cancer Plan – and is a vital part of any effective healthcare strategy.
We must ensure that no one is left behind, as we look to build more resilient, healthier and more sustainable societies.
In the EU, this means that everyone should have the same access to cancer prevention, screening, treatment and care – no matter where they live.
With our new Cancer Inequalities Registry, we want to put in place a systematic surveillance and reporting mechanism to track the cancer situation, and to guide the prioritisation of investments at EU and national level.
Cancer research and innovation is also a focus of the Horizon Europe Mission on Cancer.
This will help to translate research projects into concrete actions that improve cancer prevention and care.
Ladies and gentlemen,
With Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, we aim to bring concrete solutions and long-lasting change for cancer patients and their families.
But we cannot overcome cancer alone – that is true for individual patients, for countries, and for the world as a whole.
Partnerships are essential – at every level – and the EU will continue to work closely with partners on cancer.
This week I was in Washington to advance these discussions with the US health leadership. I met with the heads of the National Cancer Institute and discussed concretely how we can move forwards on cooperation on cancer with Secretary for Health Becerra.
With the US Cancer Moonshot, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is one of the most ambitious Plans against cancer currently existing, and I truly believe that a close transatlantic cooperation can benefit not only patients and families in the EU and US, but the cancer community worldwide.
Now, with the executive order signed by President Biden on EU-US data transfers, we have before us a world of possibilities to work ever more closely together to iron out the details, and overcome some of the obstacles we faced in the past in cooperating on research, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Policy makers, medical professionals and cancer stakeholders around the world have vital experience, expertise and perspectives – so I urge you all to come together, join us, and help us to improve cancer prevention, treatment and care for everyone.
Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is our roadmap to connect these dots, and turn the tide on cancer.
Not only in Europe, but globally.
It takes a team to tackle cancer – and I look forward to being part of yours.