Polish opposition MEP to chair EP committee on tackling cancer

The European Parliament (EP) has established a special committee on the fight against cancer to be headed by an MEP of the Polish opposition Civic Platform (PO) or Polish People's Party (PSL) camp.

The head of the PO delegation at the PE, Andrzej Halicki, said on Friday the move was a further step towards an EU response to health security.

"We are extremely happy today because the Polish initiative of setting up a special committee on the fight against cancer (...) has been accepted by more than 650 parliamentarians," Halicki said at a press conference at the EP in Brussels.

Three special committees established through a Thursday vote will each have a 12-month mandate, which can be extended. In addition to the problem of the fight against cancer, MEPs will also deal with foreign interference in EU democratic processes, including disinformation, and artificial intelligence.

Each of the committees will be made up of 33 MEPs. The one dealing with cancer is tasked with assessing the possibility of the EU taking concrete actions, define laws and other means that migt help in cancer prevention and the fight against it, as well as finding the best ways to support research.

"Cancer is the biggest killer in Europe," Halicki said. "Its harvest each year is 1.3 million victims but among the member states Poland is unfortunately a leader in this black ranking - over 100,000 victims a year. That is definitely too many. A whole prevention and education system needs to be built, and the health fund within the framework of the recovery plan will serve that."

The EP adopted a resolution after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which called for the new budget and recovery plan to allocate EUR 50 billion to increase the resistance of healthcare systems.

Halicki announced that parliamentary factions had agreed that the chair of the cancer committee will be a representative of the European Peoples Party (EPP), and within this framework a person will be chosen from PO or PSL. Although it is not yet known who it will be, former Polish PM Ewa Kopacz's name has been mentioned as she is a doctor by profession.

The EPP will take a decision in the matter during the next EP sitting in July.