Key international issues

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Revision of European legislation on the Tobacco Products Directive 

The EU Tobacco Products Directive is currently being reviewed and updated. It will be bringing forward new proposals in relation to health warnings, ingredients, size of packets and nicotine-containing products. The RCN's 2013 position statement (PDF 133 KB) sets out the RCN's detailed position as well as its position on other issues connected to the Tobacco Products Directive.

The RCN is working with EU alliances during the negotiation phase of the Directive in the European Parliament and with members states.

The Council recently reached a position on the proposal and in July the ENVI committee voted on the proposals with a view to a final plenary vote in September 2013.

Patients' rights to cross-border health care has become UK law 

The EU Directive on Cross-Border Health Care came into force in October 2013.  It gives EU patients the rights to access care in another EU state and seek reimbursement to the level of the cost that would have been incurred in their own member state.

Throughout its passage through the EU institutions, the RCN stressed the need to ensure the continuity of care and equitable access but respect national health systems' priorities. Read the RCN's January 2013 briefing on patients' rights to cross-border health care (PDF 53 KB)

The mutual recognition of professional qualifications across Europe

In 2011 the European Commission proposed some legislative amendments to the Professional Qualifications Directive, which affect nurses' right to work across Europe. Changes include methods of language testing, international alerts on fitness to practise and updating the minimum education requirements for nurses. In June 2013 the EU institutions reached agreement on the changes to be formally voted in October 2013. The RCN has produced a briefing on this agreement (pdf) and has been actively influencing the proposals since their inception in particular with it's european alliance EFN. Read more. 

European Working Time Directive

To protect workers' health and safety, minimum rules are needed on working time in all the EU member states.

The RCN has taken an active interest in the issue of working time and how long hours and shift work affect the health and safety of our members and the patients they care for.

At the end of 2011, trade union and employers' representatives at EU level agreed to open discussions on revising the Directive. The RCN fed into these discussions through its alliance the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU).

In August 2012 the Commission agreed to extend discussions until that December, as they were felt to be "making progress". However, the social partners did not reach an agreement.

The Commission has now indicated that it will bring forward a new consultation on the impact of the Working Time Directive prior to the European elections, which take place in May 2014.

Read more.

To protect workers’ health and safety, minimum rules are needed on working time in all EU member states. The RCN has always taken an active interest in the issue of working time and how long hours and shift work affect the health and safety of our members and the patients they care for.

Public health: alcohol-related harm

The RCN was recently one of 68 organisations which supported the European Alcohol Policy Alliance's call for European policymakers to launch a comprehensive alcohol policy strategy in the European Union for 2013-2020. Read the letter and see which other organisations signed up (PDF 1.1MB).

In 2008 the RCN contributed to a WHO global strategy on reducing alcohol-related harm. Read more.

More recently in February 2012, the RCN produced a short, country-specific policy briefing: Alcohol: policies to reduce alcohol-related harm in England (PDF 188 KB).

Research - Horizon 2020

The European research agenda is divided into framework programmes. The current framework programme is called FP7 and runs until 2013. Its aim is to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, with greater employment and more social cohesion.

The eigth framework programme, Horizon 2020, is due to run from 2014 - 2020. Nearly 32 billion Euros will be invested in 'societal challenges', which are divided into six categories, one of which is 'health, demographic change and wellbeing'.

For further information on the next EU funding programme, visit the Horizon 2020 website.

For further information on RCN research activity, visit the Research and Development pages on the RCN website.