From ECO's President: A New Board Sets Sail

26 March 2024

It seemed all so familiar. But it wasn't.  

I had been to plenty of ECO board meetings over the years. I knew them well. But on 14 March, as the new ECO president, I was now responsible for chairing this meeting. It was a totally different experience.

Yes, I knew the room. I knew most of the fourteen other board members sitting around the table. But it just felt very different. For starters, it was now up to me to set the agenda for this seven-hour session. What were all the issues we needed to address? And in what order? 

Working with our CEO Mike Morrissey, we slotted close to fifty different topics. Some were pro forma items that could be dealt with quickly.  Others were thorny issues that would require thoughtful discussion and debate. But as president, this agenda would reflect my priorities and sensibilities, and there were at least three areas of particular importance to me.

ECO's Strategic Plan 2024 – 2027

We are fortunate to have a sober, pragmatic strategy to guide us forward. What's new, and what we discussed, is the need to double down on our policy agenda because we have pivotal elections coming up – not only for the European Parliament but for parliaments in many countries across Europe. If ever there was a time to bang the drum and push the cancer agenda, this is it. I cannot emphasise this enough. We must not be passive. We must not be complacent. There is a real risk that after this election cycle, cancer could cease to be a priority issue and our many promising initiatives will be stalled or relegated to the amorphous 'chronic disease basket'.

ECO's Time to Accelerate Against Cancer Manifesto

Launched at the Cancer Summit in November, this document provides a detailed roadmap for politicians on how to improve cancer care across Europe: what specific policies are needed and why. Our goal now is to accelerate dissemination of – and commitment to – the manifesto. This means reaching out not only to current MEPs and MPs, but to all candidates running for office across Europe. We want to ensure that anyone in an eventual position of influence commits now to this manifesto for better cancer care.

ECO's Human Capital

We have a wonderful, dedicated staff in Brussels. We ask much of them, and they deliver. But we must constantly look for ways to retain employees and attract talented new ones. This is not a topic we often discuss at board meetings, but it is an important one, especially now with Europe's Beating Cancer Plan and our rapid expansion into project implementation. Just last month I was proud to learn that ECO has won three new EU projects, all related to mental health and cancer care. In all, ECO now has 23 European projects to deliver. So the workload is growing, and we need to be ever vigilant about the expanding demands on staff.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the ECO board for their wise counsel and steady support. Together, we have set an ambitious course for the next two years. We're now on our way.

With warm wishes,


Prof. Csaba Dégi

President (2024 - 2026)

European Cancer Organisation