The BECA Beat
The European Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) met for the first time in September of 2020. BECA was established to create actionable recommendations for Member States and the EU to strengthen their collective response against cancer. Now, a year later, they have released their draft report "Strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer – towards a comprehensive and coordinated strategy,” written by BECA Rapporteur Véronique Trillet-Lenoir (Renew, FR). This significant milestone introduces the questions, what is next for BECA, and what role will the Avicenna Alliance play? Up until this point, the BECA report has been of key interest to the Alliance because it is one of the main items on the EU’s health agenda during the current trio of presidencies, and thus is an entry point to ensure in silico medicine is part of the EU’s health future.
September 9: The BECA Committee and European Commission representatives discussed the European Health Data Space (EHDS) and the implementation progress of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability in light of the draft report. This meeting served to consider other legislation that will coalesce with the draft legislation to address cancer in the EU.
September 14: Deadline for amendments to the draft report – the Avicenna Alliance has drafted our own preferred amendments and shared these with MEPs to propose that computer modeling and simulation are more explicitly addressed in the report.
September 27: The national Parliaments of Member States, BECA, and the European Commission will have a joint meeting to discuss the draft report. This meeting serves to introduce collaboration on designing an ideal future for the draft – and thus cancer care in Europe.
October 14: BECA will do their first consideration of amendments.
November 8: BECA will do their second consideration of amendments.
December 6: BECA votes on the report!
December 23: The BECA mandate will be over, and the Special Committee dissolved.
For now, main priorities include advocating for amendments and liaising with MEPs to ensure the report is forward-thinking and prioritises patient safety and outcomes in our increasingly digitalised environment. Assuming approval of the report, 2022 will be a year to push for genuine action and implementation of the concepts listed in the plan. So far, support from the EU appears to be significant in this realm. The trio presidency has prioritised cancer; multiple efforts to ensure sustainable action, including the EC Knowledge Centre for Cancer, have been introduced; and funding for multiple cancer-based projects continues to be supported.