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National Brain Councils & National Action Groups

Over 20 countries have formed, or are in the process of forming, National Brain Councils (NBCs) and National Action Groups (NAGs). These independent and multidisciplinary councils unite scientific organisations of neuroscientists, psychiatrists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, patients’ associations, as well as the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, in order to speak in one strong voice on behalf of the whole of the “brain space”.

The EBC realizes that the best results are created in close alignment with NBCs & NAGs in a bottom-up and top-down approach, thereby ensuring optimal key stakeholder management on both national and EU level. It is especially true at the country level, given that the organisation, management and funding of health services, fall within the exclusive competence of the national governments.

Therefore, although independent, NBCs and NAGs are aligned with the main goals of EBC. These include promoting brain health, raising awareness of brain disorders, addressing stigmatisation, stimulating brain related research, fostering exchange between different disciplines and associations, promoting prevention and lobbying governments for enhanced research and treatments, in order to improve the quality of life of people affected by brain disorders.

Difference between NBC and NAG

A NAG is a multidisciplinary, temporary, and informal body consisting of representatives from national organisations covering sectors related to the brain. A NAG is easier to create as it does not need to have a formal structure (statutes established according to current local legislation, general assembly, board election, bank account, etc.).

As an informal body a NAG has limited authority and where possible it may be beneficial for the NAG to transform into an NBC – a legally constituted body which can have the necessary legitimacy to speak to local and international institutions. As the NAG transforms to an NBC, the members become official representatives of their relevant national organisations.

Maps of the NBCs & NAGs

  • National Brain Councils
  • National Action Groups

Observer Membership to EBC

EBC welcomes NBCs into its membership structure through application from individual Brain Councils to apply for an observer status. This status of observers -which is of a duration of 3 years, allows NBCs delegates to attend EBC General Assembly meetings and have more privileged access to EBC resources and network.

An application can be received through a formal letter which should include a due justification of what input in EBC is expected to be, and which category of membership you apply for. This should be completed with:

  • a copy of the Statutes of your organisation (if possible, translated in English)
  • an activity report from the last year
  • the composition of the Board (with length of mandates)
  • a work plan and budget for the upcoming/present year
  • any other info that you would see relevant
  • commitment to pay the annual membership fee (Observer: € 200).

Other forms of cooperation between European and National Councils

Although NBCs & NAGs are independent from the EBC, both parties can benefit from collaboration. Examples include:

  • EBC hosting annual NBCs Academy to provide a platform for exchange of best practice as well as to promote other initiatives bringing mutual benefits
  • EBC representatives attending local meetings, both related to forming NBCs & NAGs and aiming at promoting the brain in general
  • EBC and NBCs joint work in approaching EU politicians, including senior members of the European Commission and European Parliament, and conversely – joint approaches to national politicians such as health and finance Ministers, to further both European and national goals
  • EBC providing technical assistance related to formation and management of local councils and building capacities of existing ones by means of creating and updating on ad-hoc basis an extensive NBCs toolkit
  • EBC providing local councils with EU policy updates and briefings in the form of regular communication (weekly External Environment Report and bi-monthly newsletter) as well as specific updates on occasions such as elections to the European Parliament or negotiations on EU research programmes
  • EBC providing an online platform to offer knowledgebase and ensure quick and efficient exchange of information
  • EBC providing executive summaries of its key studies in main European languages
  • EBC providing country broken down data on cost of brain disorders
  • EBC to investigate possibility of applying for an EU-funded grant involving EBC and NBCs

Examples of successful NBCs initiatives

  • Country cost specific papers based on the Cost of Disorders of the Brain in Europe study written in Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland and UK – proving up-to-date epidemiological and economic data on prevalence of brain disorders in their respective countries
  • Joint work on developing National Brain Plans. To this and, a task force has been formed with eight NBCs. Currently Belgian, Norwegian and Polish Brain Councils are working towards developing the plans. This includes: joint EBC and Polish Brain Council Brussels event promoting the Plan as well as a meeting that the Norwegian Brain Council held with the Prime Minister. The meeting resulted in the formal announcement of cooperation in order to develop a National Brain Plan in Norway
  • Joint EU Presidency high visibility events organized together with EBC and Polish and Spanish Brain Councils during their respective EU Presidencies
  • (Bi)annual events and congresses – e.g. regular congresses organized by Belgium Brain Council
  • Brain Awareness Week, European Month/Year of the Brain and other events organized by NBCs in Belgium, Bulgaria Croatia, Finland, Norway, Turkey and other countries
  • In 2016 the Slovenian Brain Council and the Slovenian government officially declared the third Wednesday in March as the Slovenian Brain Day
  • In 2016 Norwegian Brain Council received governmental grant supporting administrative assistance for the Council
  • Neuroscience advocacy campaign in Slovenia launched by Slovenian Brain Council together with the campaign manifesto
  • During the Brain Awareness Week 2017, the Irish Brain Council launched an Inaugural Position Paper: Building a Supportive Framework for Brain Research in Ireland.

NBCs toolkit

Following the extensive consultation process with the majority of NBCs and NAGs in 2015, EBC drafted a toolkit that aims at offering a collected set of tools to NBCs and NAGs. It is intended to serve as inspiration and assistance when engaging with national stakeholders.

The toolkit has been developed to reflect the current environmental strategic set up, namely that NBCs and NAGs are independent bodies but aligned with the main goals of the EBC. The aim of this toolkit is to support local councils in undertaking activities and starting new initiatives. It provides knowledge, ideas, tools and step-by-step advice. It also aims to encourage closer collaboration between EBC and individual NBCs & NAGs, in order to share knowledge and learnings.

Among other things, the toolkit provides a guide on how to transform a NAG into an NBC, how to raise awareness, how to develop a communication plan, one pagers on how to approach the media and politicians and best practice examples from successful NAGs and NBCs.

NBCs Toolkit : Download the toolkit

Knowledge Base