Foreword from the European Commission

European Commissioner Responsible for Health, Tonio Borg

Respiratory diseases are the third leading cause of death in the European Union. Over 20 million people in the EU suffer from asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects 40 million Europeans. The total burden of lung diseases overall is even higher.

Action to address this challenge must be based on solid evidence. I therefore welcome the new edition of the European Lung White Book, which brings together broad, comprehensive, and accurate information on lung diseases in Europe, both for health professionals and for citizens.

This publication provides a good basis for policy makers to take decisions to prevent and address lung diseases. The EU is keen to continue    Borg contributing to the prevention of lung diseases, in particular through action on tobacco control and on environmental pollutants.

Indeed, in 2012 the Commission presented proposals to considerably strengthen EU tobacco products legislation and continuously monitors and supports member states’ implementation of smoke-free environments. I am confident that such measures will help reduce the incidence in particular of COPD, for which smoking is the main cause.

It is also important that lung diseases are addressed in the wider context of chronic diseases and comorbidity, a particular concern in our ageing societies, as a follow up to the United Nations Declaration on Noncommunicable Diseases and through our EU reflection process on chronic diseases.

I am grateful to the authors, the European Respiratory Society and the European Lung Foundation for this important publication.


Tonio Borg