On 12 November, Latvia signed the declaration 'Towards access to at least 1 million sequenced genomes in the EU by 2022’, becoming part of the joint European effort to link genomic databases in order to build a secure health data infrastructure at European level.
The Genomics Declaration is a cooperation agreement between the signatory countries, which pledged to collaborate to obtain secure and authorized access to national and regional banks for genetic data and other health data. Such cooperation is expected to improve the health and care services of European citizens and ensure Europe's leading position in health research. Improved disease prevention and more accurate personalised treatments for cancer, brain related diseases and rare diseases, are among the awaited results of this cooperation.
Signatory Member States of the Declaration stated their readiness to cooperate closely to overcome data silos, lack of interoperability and fragmentation of smaller national initiatives. This will contribute to a larger cohort of genomic data, which will hopefully allow for more effective clinical research.
This initiative is in line with the European Commission's Digital Single Market mid-term review priorities, including the goal to support the establishment of a secure health data infrastructure at EU level, in order to advance research and personalised medicine. The Commission will assist Member States in establishing a voluntary coordination mechanism of public authorities to link ongoing initiatives in genomic medicine. This initiative may be used as a policy hook in our future communications with the Commission in relation to personalised medicine.
The Declaration on cross-border access to genomic databases (Genomics Declaration) was originally launched on 10 April 2018 during the second edition of the European Digital Day. Since its launch, the initiative has been joined by Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK and now also Latvia.