Commissioner, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Tribute to Anders Gustâv
Two years ago today ECDC was a just a small team of people based a kilometre or so from here, in Solna town hall.
I feel it is very appropriate today that, while inaugurating our newly refurbished headquarters, we are naming ECDC's main auditorium in honour of the late Mayor of Solna, Anders Gustâv.
Mayor Gustâv's offer to host ECDC at Solna town hall for its first six months of existence gave me, as the Centre's Director, and our Management Board, a crucial breathing space. It meant we could take some time to look for, and agree on, a suitable permanent location for ECDC.
It also enabled me to start the substantive work of the Centre from day one. So thanks to Mayor Gustâv the new ECDC could really "hit the ground running".
Anders Gustâv's generosity and foresight had important consequences both for Solna and the EU Firstly, ECDC felt so welcome in Solna that we decided to make it our permanent home.
Secondly, part of the substantive work we did during those crucial first six months was to start up ECDC's influenza activities. So in October 2005 when H5N1 avian influenza arrived in the European neighbourhood, we were able to rise to our first major challenge.
Tribute to Commissioner Kyprianou
ECDC had many other good friends during it start-up phase, and I am glad to see so many of them here today.
I must pay tribute to all the members of our Management Board for your hard work and your support over the past 2 years. Thank you.
However, I must say that one of our most important friends over the past two years has been Markos Kyprianou, the European Commissioner for Health.
Commissioner Kyprianou's leadership on communicable disease issues has made a huge difference to ECDC. I honestly do not believe the work ECDC has been doing on reviewing EU countries' preparedness against pandemic influenza would have been possible without that leadership.
We look forward eagerly to your address to ECDC's Management Board, Commissioner. We are truly honoured and delighted to have you here to inaugurate ECDC's headquarters.
Inauguration marks new phase in our development
To me, the inauguration of ECDC's headquarters marks a new phase in the Centre's development.
I hesitate to say ECDC has come of age, because we still have a lot of expansion ahead of us. But we have perhaps passed from being a child to being a youth.
The Centre has reached a certain critical mass in terms of our staff and our infrastructure.
It is of symbolic importance that from today onward ECDC's Management Board will meet in the Centre's own board room rather than in a meeting room kindly made available by the Swedish government - for which, Ministers, we thank you very much, of course.
It is also fitting that one of the main subjects our Management Board will be discussing at this meeting is ECDC strategy through to 2013.
2005 and 2006 were about building the Centre's infrastructure and responding to the threats posed by avian influenza and pandemic influenza.
2007 and onwards will be about ECDC delivering across the board, on all the diseases within its mandate, but particularly the major scourges.
I know we still have more discussion ahead of us to finalise all the details of ECDC's long term strategy. However, I am sure we will agree that, as well as influenza, the key infectious disease challenges facing the EU include HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and healthcare related infections.
However, I will leave it there and hand over the floor to our Chairman, Dr. Marc Sprenger, who is also Director-General of the Netherlands' Institute for Health and the Environment (RIVM).