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European Union: Bio-Preparedness

(July 2, 2009) In 2007, the European Commission issued a Green Paper on Bio-Preparedness to initiate consultation at the European Union level between national authorities responsible for risk prevention and response, especially those engaged in public health, customs, and bio-industry, and law enforcement authorities and professionals, to explore options for reducing risks posed by biological hazards and methods to improve preparedness. The Green Paper uses the term “preparedness” broadly to cover all issues, such as prevention, protection, prosecution of criminals or terrorists, surveillance, response, and recovery. It also includes measures to reduce the risk of intentional contamination of the food supply through biological agents. (Commission of the European Communities, Green Paper on Bio-Preparedness, COM (2007) 399 final (July 11, 2007), available at

The consultation process led the European Commission to take concrete action in the field of bio-preparedness. On June 24, 2009, the Commission adopted a policy package on chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) security. The package consists of a Commission Communication, an EU CBRN Action Plan, and a Commission Staff Working Document entitled “Bridging Security and Health.” (Press Release, IP/09/992, EUROPA [gateway to the EU], The Commission Proposes a New Policy to Enhance Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Security in the EU (June 24, 2009), available at

The salient feature of the Commission's package is the CBRN Action Plan, which includes 133 measures based on the feedback obtained during the consultation process. In line with the recommendations and opinions submitted, the Commission's measures focus on three key areas: prevention, by ensuring that unauthorized access to CBRN materials becomes almost impossible; detection, through enhancing the capability to detect CBRN materials promptly; and preparedness and response, by being able to respond efficiently to and recover as quickly as possible from incidents involving CBRN materials. (Id.)

The Action Plan will be communicated to the Member States and their health and consumer officials will work out a consensus agreement at a future meeting. Implementation of the plan will begin in 2010. (Id.)