EASL has been working on EU advocacy and policy since 2009. Our advocacy efforts have concentrated on raising awareness about liver disease in Europe, how to prevent and treat it and the role that EASL can play in doing this.
EASL took a big step forward in EU affairs when it opened a Brussels office in September 2015. With its location in the heart of the EU district, the new office facilitates dialogue between EASL and its EU-based partners, policy makers and Commission officials. EASL expanded its team to include two new posts on research and food and alcohol. The Science and Research Policy Officer is responsible for liaising with the Industry and Research Committee in the European Parliament and keeping EASL and its members up-to-date with the latest EU research news and funding opportunities. The Alcohol and Food Policy Officer advises EASL on strategy in this area and advocates for more encompassing EU policies. Both policy officers report back to the Director of EU Public Affairs who works on viral hepatitis, other key liver diseases, trade and access to medicines.
Each year over 170,000 people die from liver cirrhosis in Europe. There are over one million deaths globally. Twenty-nine million EU citizens and 650 million people globally suffer from a chronic liver disease. The economic burden of liver disease in Europe has been estimated at over €15.8 billion per annum.
The ALIVER Consortium has developed a novel and innovative liver dialysis machine that will help the liver to naturally regenerate or, where that does not prove possible, to keep patients alive and healthy until a donated liver becomes available. DIALIVE has been demonstrated to be effective in pre-clinical tests. Two universities, four hospitals, two foundations and four industrial partners including EASL, will work together to deliver DIALIVE.
Building partnerships has been crucial to EASL’s success in pursuing its advocacy and policy goals. EASL works with a number of EU partners in the fields of chronic diseases (European Chronic Disease Alliance), alcohol policy (Eurocare, European Liver Patients Alliance and the Union of European Gastroenterologists) and general public health (European Public Health Alliance). We also have close working relationships with the European Commission, European Parliament, European Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation.
The objective of these partnerships is to find links between liver and related diseases and common health determinants and to leverage the potential of the wider health community at European Union (EU) and wider European level to support our advocacy efforts. This is consistent with EU approaches to health and research policy that emphasize common health determinants over individual diseases.
In 2013, EASL established the Friends of the Liver group in the European Parliament. Following the retirement of its first Chair, Stephen Hughes, MEP, it is now chaired by Dr Christian Busoi (EPP, Romania). The goal of the FoTL group is to work with Members of the European Parliament to raise aware of liver disease in the Parliament and to advocate for EU level policies to prevent and treat them.
On 27 May 2015, EASL held an event in the European Parliament to re-launch the MEP Friends of the Liver Interest Group. Future meetings will take place on a regular basis.
In September 2014 the EASL Governing Board agreed on the following advocacy priorities for 2015 to 2018
EASL has published three reports on liver disease in Europe.
The 2016 work programme of the EU Health Programme is now available.