EU Coordination of Serious Cross-Border Threats to Health: The Implications for Protection of Informed Consent in National Pandemic Policies

EU Coordination of Serious Cross-Border Threats to Health: The Implications for Protection of Informed Consent in National Pandemic Policies
Hannah Van Kolfschooten
European Journal of Risk Regulation, October 2019; 10(4) pp 635-651
Open Access
Abstract
This article discusses the development of a more supranational EU approach to regulate risks of “serious cross-border threats to health” such as pandemic disease outbreaks. It argues that the EU’s public health measures to prevent and tackle pandemics could affect individual patients’ rights, because the rights of individual European citizens are balanced against the importance of protecting the European community as a whole. This results in a tension between public health and individual rights in the EU, especially with regard to the right to informed consent, a central right in health law. In response to the 2013–2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the EU introduced several preventive and responsive measures in the Member States to prevent the pandemic from spreading to the EU. The case study analysis of Dutch pandemic policies established in reaction to this outbreak shows that national pandemic policies are substantially shaped by EU actions, which has implications for the protection of the individual right to informed consent in the Member States.

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