On Monday, May 27, 2024, the European Council adopted new rules on substances of human origin (SoHO).

The regulation on substances of human origin (SoHO) will ensure better protection for donors and recipients, as well as for children born following medically assisted reproduction. The new rules aim to strengthen the existing legal framework while also increasing flexibility in order to keep up with scientific and technical developments.

Voluntary and unpaid donations

Member states will be able to compensate living SoHO donors, following the principle of voluntary and unpaid donation and based on transparent criteria, including fixed allowances or through non-financial forms of compensation. The conditions for such compensation will be established in national legislation.

Promotion and publicity activities in support of SoHO donations (for example, campaign billboards or posters, television, newspaper or magazine advertisements) must not refer to compensation. National authorities will therefore have to ensure that compensation is not used as an incentive to recruit donors.

Safeguarding supply

EU countries will establish and regularly update “national SoHO emergency plans”, setting out measures to ensure the security of supply for critical substances.

Next steps

The regulation will now be signed by both the Council and the European Parliament. It will then enter into force following publication in the EU’s Official Journal.

Useful links

Council of the EU Press Release – here.

Text of the Regulation – here.

EU Health Policy background information – here.

Formally inaugurated on April 24, 2024, the Critical Medicines Alliance (CMA) was officially launched the next day in Brussels. The EHC, represented by Daria Camilli, Communications and Education Manager, participated in the closed-door launch together with the representatives of other members of the CMA as well as the European authorities.

The full member list can be found here.


This Critical Medicines Alliance is a new consultative mechanism bringing together national authorities, industry, civil society, the Commission, and EU agencies to identify the best measures to address and avoid shortages of critical medicines. It complements regulatory measures in the proposed EU pharmaceutical reform and is at the centre of the new strategic and coordinated industrial approach to enhance the security of supply of the most critical medicines.

The work of the Alliance will focus on critical medicines that face the greatest vulnerabilities, based on the ongoing Commission vulnerability analysis for a sub-set of substances listed on the Union list of critical medicines, first published by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in December 2023.

More about CMA here.

Next steps

The Alliance will use the outcome of the pilot assessment of critical medicines
as a point of reference
➔ As of May, members of the Alliance will collaborate in thematic Working Groups
➔ Throughout Q4 2024, the Working Groups will make recommendations
based on the identified vulnerabilities
➔ By the end of 2024, the Steering Board will come forward with a Strategic
Plan, which the Alliance Forum will consider and endorse
➔ This plan will establish a multi-annual set of actions aimed at guiding the
work of EU decision-makers
➔ The initial mandate of the Alliance is of 5 years

Further reading

More about the CMA on the EC website here.

Union list of critical medicines here.

On April 24, 2024, the European Parliament adopted the European Health Data Space (EHDS). With 445 votes in favour, 142 against and 39 abstentions parliamentarians endorsed the provisional agreement between the Parliament and Council negotiators in mid-March.


This groundbreaking initiative, put forward by the Commission in May 2022, has two main aims:

Thanks to the new rules, citizens will benefit from immediate and simple access to their digital health data when in the EU, regardless of their location. For instance, when a patient seeks healthcare abroad, healthcare professionals will be able, when necessary, to access key information from the patient’s home Member State. This will improve evidence-based decision-making, reduce repetition of tests and examinations and enhance patient care.

The EHDS also establishes a strong legal framework for the re-use of health data for research, innovation and public health purposes in full compliance with strict EU data security and access criteria, fundamental rights and cybersecurity rules. The data will help develop life-saving treatments and personalised medicines and improve European crisis preparedness.

Next Steps

The Council will now formally adopt the new European Health Data Space regulation which is expected to be published in the Official Journal in autumn. It will then become applicable in different stages according to the use case and data type.

For More Information

EHDS Press Release

EHDS Questions and Answers

EHDS Factsheet

Source: European Commission

During the European Parliament’s plenary session on 24th April, MEPs voted to approve the provisional agreement on the European Disability Card, which aims to enhance mobility for people with disabilities across the EU. This is a positive development for Europeans living with a rare disease, many of whom are affected by a related disability.

The new rules, adopted with 613 votes in favour, 7 against and 11 abstentions and already agreed on by the Parliament and the Council, will establish an EU-wide disability card to make sure that persons with disabilities have equal access to preferential conditions, such as reduced or zero entry fees, priority access, and access to reserved parking. As outlined in the adopted text, individuals participating in mobility programmes such as Erasmus+ and third-country nationals.

The European Disability Card will be issued in physical format and, when available, in digital format, and will be issued and renewed free of charge. Depending on the country, costs could be charged for loss and damage to the card.

Next steps

The agreed text will now have to be formally adopted by the Council, too, before publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and entry into force.

Read more here