A Right to Be Forgotten in All Countries: the Cancer Community Unites

15 February 2024

The European Cancer Organisation (ECO) was pleased to participate in the High-Level Conference on Ending Discrimination Against Cancer Survivors, under the auspices of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The event highlighted the various hardships faced by cancer survivors, including financial discrimination, and called for increased political action to achieve a 'right to be forgotten'. This would remove any obligation to declare a previous cancer diagnosis to financial service providers five years after end of active treatment. Eight Member States[1] have already recognised this right by introducing national legislation. The European cancer community, as expressed via its Time to Accelerate: Together Against Cancer Manifesto, seeks this right to be established in EVERY European country.  

Chief Executive Mike Morrissey was invited to present ECO’s perspective during a panel discussion.  He urged for the Right To Be Forgotten to be enshrined in European Law during the 2024-2029 Commission. He reminded the audience that a voluntary Code of Conduct on Fair Access of Cancer Survivors to Financial Services, as currently being developed by the European Commission and set to be published in March, should only be seen as a first step towards this goal.

‘Why are we needlessly adding financial burdens to the distress associated with a cancer diagnosis?’ he asked to the audience.

The European Cancer Organisation has been committed to the Right To Be Forgotten campaign since 2018. In January 2024, ECO released a Policy Statement; Time to Accelerate: The Right to be Forgotten, further detailing its positions on the matter:

  1. Citizen rights should be protected and upheld through legal and regulatory means, rather than through voluntary codes of conduct
  2. Five years following the end of active treatment should be adopted as the European standard for the Right to be Forgotten ; and,
  3. The final European Code of Conduct on fair Access of Cancer Survivors to Financial Services should be envisioned as the consensus basis for encouraging every EU Member State to implement a legal Right to be Forgotten.

For further information about this topic, and to connect to ECO's work on Survivorship and Quality of Life, please contact Marion L’hote at marion.lhote@europeancancer.org


[1] France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Cyprus and Italy