The European Parliament voted on Own Initiative Reports important for Nurses

The European Parliament voted on Own Initiative Reports important for Nurses

Posted on March 2, 2017

The European Parliament EMPL committee voted on the Own Initiative Report (OIR) for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work. A topic of high relevance for nurses! The OIR has been approved with 38 votes in favour and 6 votes against, but the two tabled amendments, 80 and 81, were rejected. It is surprising, as expressed by the rapporteur, that all amendments tabled by the ENVI Committee were rejected. For clarity, the amendment 80 and 81 are:

  • Amendment 80 – Professionals and workers exposed to hazardous substances, in particular healthcare professionals, nurses, must receive suitable and regular information on the risks, personal protective equipment, as well as suitable decontamination, cleaning and disinfection guidelines based on surface contamination levels and type of drugs. Regular monitoring of surface contamination needs to be made mandatory, in particular for healthcare professionals and workers.
  • Amendment 81 – Closed System Drug Transfer Device, defined by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as “a device which mechanically prohibits the transfer of environmental contaminants into the system and the escape of hazardous drug or vapour concentrations outside the system”, which is airtight and leakproof, needs to be made mandatory for professionals and workers, in particular healthcare professionals, nurses, exposed to contamination.

Although the European Federation of Nursing Associations find support from MEPs in favour of these amendments, as cancer is now the main cause of work-related deaths in the EU and cytotoxic drugs are the most dangerous chemical risk factor in healthcare, they did not pass in the EMPL committee, although the cost benefits of using an effective CSTD have been largely proven and these amendments will protect nurses, pharmacists, doctors, workers and patients from the life changing and limiting effects of cancer caused by exposure to carcinogenic hazardous drugs. The EFN, will follow up closely the process of debate linked with this topic, and lobby the rapporteur Marita Ulskog (S&D) in charge of the compromise text of the future directive.

The EMPL Committee also discussed the ‘Minimum Income policies’ as a tool to tackle poverty, with rapporteur Laura Agea (EFDD-Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group) and rapporteur Miguel Viegas (Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left). Laura stated that “120 million European citizens are living in poverty, leading to social exclusion”. This is in contrast with the upcoming celebration of the Treaty of Rome, representing the values of European Union, like inclusion, and better living condition. So, what do we have to celebrate? It was argued that the ‘Minimum Income Scheme’ need to be accompanied by a Social Integration Model. Although the aim of the Draft Report on ‘Minimum Income Scheme’, developed by EMPL Committee, is to push the Commission to take a clear position on the topic, I think Juncker has other major challenges. However, a panel of experts provided alternatives to the Minimum Income Scheme: 1. Guarantee Transition Jobs, a non-inflationary alternative to Basic Income Proposal; 2. Adequacy of the actual Minimum Income Scheme, need to be developed based on the needs of the population; 3. An adequate, accessible Minimum Income scheme; and, 4. Improved social reforms and decent Minimum Income Schemes. The deadline for the opinions on the draft report on Guarantee Minimum Income is set 14 March 2017 (12.00) with rapporteur Laura Agea and rapporteur Miguel Viegas.

Finally, the EFN is following up the vote on the Draft Opinion on the Budgetary Control of financing NGOs from the EU budget, in the ENVI committee. The draft opinion by Ms Mireille D’Ornano (ENF, FR) detects the changes needed to the actual communication and definition of NGOs. The improvement of financing scheme, the increase in transparency, the promotion of control from the OLAF, are amongst some of the measures needed to achieve the goals of higher transparency regarding the financing of NGOs from the EU funds. For this Opinion ENVI tabled 66 amendments, 13 amendments were adopted, 43 amendments were rejected. Finally, the draft opinion was rejected with 47 votes against and 7 in favour, which is positive, as it opened the opportunity for EFN to keep on lobbying the MEPs addressing the civil society concerns. As such, the EFN will continue lobbying the Budgetary Control Committee, in particular MEP Markus Piper in order to address the EFN concerns on financing NGO, or the lack of Commission funding for NGOs, making reference to the Joint Actions exclusion European NGOs as partners, addressing the complexity of participation in H2020 calls and civil society being excluded form almost all consortia, and the Commission preference to outsource studies to big consultancies, often paid by the Industry! So, the Commission is drying up the funding streams for Civil Society!