March 2013

(Published in: ESRS Newsletter, March 2013)

ESRS EU Committee

Members (2012 – 2014):
Roberto Amici (Chair), Diego Garcia Borreguero (Co-Chair), Marta Gonçalves, Damien Leger, Dieter Riemann

The main aims of the Committee are: i) to bring the topics of “sleep” and “sleep disorders” to the attention of the EU in order to receive support for research and teaching activities; ii) to promote sleep-related issues from a political point of view at a European and National level.

In the past few months, the achievement of the EU Committee has been the meeting with Mr. Bodo Richter, Deputy Head of the Marie Curie action within the FP7 Programme, and Mr. Paul Harris, policy maker of the DG Education and Culture (October 25th) and the meeting with Mr. Gilles Bergot, Head of the Unit Road Safety of the DG Move (November 30th). Both meetings were very positive and interesting. In the first meeting, a delegation composed of the ESRS President, the Chair of the Education Committee, and the two Chairs of the EU Committee addressed the officers about the need for more education and training about sleep in Europe and about the forthcoming launch of the “European Standard Education Program in Sleep Medicine”. In the second meeting, a delegation composed of the ESRS President and the Chair and two members of the EU Committee addressed the officer about the risks and the social costs of “sleepiness at the wheel”.

The program of the activities planned for 2013 is rather ambitious. A meeting entitled “Networking to Understand Sleep Functions and Dysfunctions - The European Basic and Clinical Sleep Research Towards Horizon 2020” has been scheduled for May 3 in Brussels. This meeting is part of the program of the Month of the Brain, that will be organised in May 2013 at the initiative of the DG Research and Innovation (Health Directorate) of the EU Commission. During this event, several present and past ESRS Board members and officers will address EU officers from different Commissions and DGs on the ongoing activities and goals of the main European Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine Networks, in terms of the impact on science, health, education and work/road safety. In particular, the need of a specific call on Sleep in the forthcoming framework programme Horizon 2020 will be addressed.

In addition, the project “Wake up Bus” is ready to be finalised under the coordination of Marta Gonçalves (President of the Portuguese Sleep Society and member of the EU Committee) with the EU Committee and the ANSS. The project is aimed at raising awareness among general public of the importance of sleepiness as one of the main causes of road accidents. The activities will end with a meeting at the EU Parliament that will be held on October 15th, in which the EU Parliamentarians will be addressed by ESRS officers, ANSS members, and a panel of experts about “sleepiness at the wheel”- related issues. To this aim, a “Wake-up” bus will travel through Europe, starting in Portugal and ending in Brussels. An awareness campaign will be run by the National Sleep Society of each country visited by the bus. Moreover, a European Sleep Study on “Sleepiness and Accidents” will be carried out at a national level and the results of the study will be presented at the EU Parliament. Fifteen National Sleep Societies have declared their interest to participate in the Bus Project and/or the Sleep Study.   

Roberto Amici