European Parliament Interest Group on Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases, 2015-2019

The European Parliament Interest Group on Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMDs) was established in November 2015 and remained active throughout the Parliamentary term of 2015-2019. It built on the achievements of the previous Interest Group (IG) set up with EULAR’s support during the 2011-2015 period. The new Group comprised some members of the previous Group as well as several new members.

The overall aim of the IG was to raise the profile of RMDs; the burden they impose on individuals, society and the European economy; but also to highlight solutions for the challenges they impose. This meant that the issues affecting the 120 million people living in Europe with an RMD could be taken into account in EU legislation and policymaking, ensuring that these diseases were made an integral part of EU programmes in health, research, social affairs, employment and other relevant policies.

EULAR supported its work by providing strategic advice on relevant topics, suggesting speakers and producing notes of each meeting which were shared with key stakeholders and publicly via EULAR’s communications channels.

The Group had representation from a range of political parties and Member States, and EULAR remains grateful to Roberta Metsola (EPP Group; Malta; and latterly Vice President of the European Parliament) for chairing the Group, as well as to all members for their support for RMDs.

Meeting topics were determined by the Group members, in close consultation with EULAR. This meant that issues under discussion were linked to policy development relevant both to the EU institutions and to EULAR.

Meetings typically included a presentation by the European Commission on existing or planned policy initiatives or legislation, and the corresponding opinion of the Member States (including three Council Presidencies) where appropriate, and the European Parliament. In addition, a representative of the RMD community as well as key stakeholders were invited to present their views.


Highlights of topics covered include:


“Policy issues and challenges in the treatment and care of rare diseases”: many RMDs are uncommon and in policy terms rare diseases is an area where the EU can add value through supporting international collaboration.



“Launch of RheumaMap”: EULAR launched its vision of rheumatology research for the longer term, RheumaMap, at this IG meeting. This document had been developed after previous meetings with DG Research had indicated it would be a welcome addition to thinking in research in chronic diseases.



“Safer and Healthier Work: Facilitating the integration of people with chronic diseases”: this meeting elicited the support of the Parliament for EULAR’s upcoming strategic priority of enhancing the work situation of people with RMDsThe support of the IG has been crucial in further raising the profile of RMDs with policymakers at the EU level.. For example, one priority for its members was the Parliament report “Pathways for the reintegration of workers recovering from injury and illness into quality employment”. After representations from the IG, this was amended to include specific references to RMDs, including a call for concrete actions to better support people with RMDs in the workplace.

Related Information

About EULAR Advocacy

EU Advocacy is a key activity for a European umbrella organisation like the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR).

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EULAR Advocacy Partnerships

EULAR is committed to partner with organisations and scientific medical societies at a EU and national level towards improving research funding, social policy legislation and quality of care; assisting advocacy actions on the national and international levels around rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs).

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EULAR RheumaMap

A Research Roadmap to transform the lives of people with Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases.

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EULAR Policy Statements

As part of its advocacy activities, EULAR produces and adopts a number of documents and declarations that are used to express EULAR’s position and/or demands on different policy issues.

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Links to other organisations

Partnerships that help to increase the knowledge of the organisations involved and the impact they can have on the political stage.

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Questions and Answers on RMDs

EULAR description on Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMDs)

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