European Union institutions
ECDC is a member of the European Union (EU) family, and receives funding from the EU budget. The EU Institutions and Member States are therefore ECDC’s most important partners. ECDC works very closely with the European Commission, but it also advises and gives reports to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
Within the European Parliament, the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) deals with all issues concerning ECDC (together with the Budgets Committee (BUDG) on budgetary issues). The ENVI has a parliamentary hearing with the Director nominee before his/her approval by the Management Board, and closely follows the work of ECDC. By invitation, the Director regularly addresses the ENVI to give updates and assessments on the epidemiological situation.
The Council and Presidency of the European Union
Health ministers from the EU Member States meet regularly in the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO). In recent years, the threat to human health posed by infectious diseases, such as Ebola, influenza, HIV/AIDS and healthcare associated infections, has been an important topic at these meetings. The Director of ECDC has, on occasion, participated in these ministerial meetings to give Centre’s expert analysis and advice. When appropriate, ECDC experts participate in the committees of civil servants that prepare the ministerial meetings.
ECDC has daily contacts with staff of the European Commission. The closest links are to the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), in particular the Directorate B (Health systems, medical products and innovation) and its Health in all policies, global health, tobacco control Unit (B2), as well as the Directorate C (Public Health, country knowledge, crisis management) and its Crisis management and preparedness in health Unit (C3). On the issues related to zoonoses ECDC contacts are with Directorates E (Food and feed safety, innovation), F (Health and food audits and analysis) and G (Crisis management in food, animals and plants).
ECDC also advises the European Commission on research issues within the Framework Programmes of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD). In addition, ECDC runs several projects funded by the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) to develop technical cooperation with non-EU countries on communicable diseases. ECDC also cooperates with the Directorate-General for Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO) and the Directorate General International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO).
Other EU agencies
ECDC collaborates with other EU agencies in closely related fields by exchanging information and cooperating on matters of mutual interest. In particular ECDC collaborates with the following agencies of the European Union:
ECDC has signed Memoranda of Understanding that lay out the nature of the collaboration between the Agencies in their areas of common interest. Such agreements have been signed with:
- the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) with an aim to increase cooperation and exchange scientific information on topics of mutual interest including food safety, control of communicable diseases, infectious diseases prevention, and emergency response;
- the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to foster cooperation in the areas of mutual interest including vaccines, antimicrobial agents and resistance, antivirals, and substances of human origins;
- the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) to work together in such areas as monitoring, communicating on, and preventing the spread of drug-related infectious diseases in Europe. While ECDC analyses trends in these diseases across the whole population, the EMCDDA, as a specialised information provider on drugs, focuses on specific drug-related risk groups such as injecting drug users.
Member States and EEA/EFTA countries
ECDC works closely with the 28 EU Member States and with the EEA/EFTA countries (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein).
Being a relatively small agency, ECDC relies on the expertise and infrastructures (e.g. microbiological laboratories) in the Member States. ECDC co-ordinates EU resources and is the focal point of communicable disease-related information. The pooled expertise of the ECDC is also offered to those countries in need of enhancing specific aspects of their communicable disease control systems.
The main contact points in the Member States are the members of the ECDC Advisory Forum and Management Board, in their respective roles, and the Coordinating Competent Bodies identified by the Management Board.
EU candidate countries and potential candidates
Countries which have applied to the EU and following the European Council decision have been granted the status of candidate country. These countries have begun, or will begin shortly, the accession process by adopting EU legislation. Currently there are five candidate countries, namely, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey.
The countries covered by the EU enlargement policy and which did not apply or have not been recognised as candidate countries are considered potential candidates. Currently there are two potential candidate countries - Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo* (*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence).
In its work with the EU enlargement countries the Centre implements the ECDC pre-accession programme supported by DG for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) through its Instrument of Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). In addition, upon request from the Commission, ECDC conducts EU enlargement countries’ assessments of the capacities in the field of communicable diseases. International relations section maintains the network of National ECDC Correspondents and builds the cooperation activities in a coordinated manner via this officially nominated single contact point for the relations between ECDC and the country.
European Neighbourhood Policy partners
ECDC’s cooperation with the countries participating in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) aims at developing technical cooperation on the prevention and control of communicable diseases and bringing the ENP partner countries closer to EU standards in the area of communicable diseases through strengthening of capacities and the approximation of practices and legislation.
ECDC’s long-term objective is to establish a set of procedures and tools available for technical cooperation with ENP countries as well as to have well-functioning contacts for cooperation in place.
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of ECDC’s most important technical partners. ECDC experts regularly contribute to the technical work of WHO on infectious diseases, and ECDC participates in WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN). The WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/EURO), in particular, has tasks and responsibilities that interlink with those of ECDC. ECDC therefore places utmost importance in coordinating its work with WHO/EURO to efficiently use limited resources and avoid duplication of efforts. Since 2008 ECDC and WHO Euro have produced joint annual surveillance reports of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis across the EU and the wider European neighbourhood (the WHO European Region covers 53 countries). ECDC and WHO Euro also work together on influenza surveillance, and have partnered on numerous training and capacity building initiatives.
Collaboration with WHO Europe was reinforced in 2011 through the renewal of an administrative arrangement establishing a framework for technical cooperation, joint activities and coordination, and the establishment of a Joint Coordination Group.
Organisations in other non-EU countries
ECDC collaborates with major centres for disease prevention and control across the globe and has signed Memoranda of Understanding and administrative agreements with some of them to foster cooperation. Such agreements have been signed with public health institutes competent for the prevention and control of communicable diseases in China, the USA, Canada, and Israel.