Ministers attending the EU's Environment Council on 27 October warmly welcomed the recently launched European environment and health action plan, but claimed that further research strategies need to be integrated into the plan. The aim of the action plan is to reduce diseases caused by environmental factors in Europe. In order to achieve this goal, the plan seeks the better understanding and identification of health problems related to environmental degradation, with a view to preventing new health threats linked to environmental pollution. Special emphasis is given to the most vulnerable groups in society, in particular children. While ministers agreed that the action plan 'represents an important step towards establishing a coherent, long-term, integrated Community policy to combat environmental and health threats', they pointed to a number of areas where potential synergies can be exploited, particularly with regard to research. These include developing closer cooperation and a 'strict linkage' between the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) and other Community programmes, with a view to increasing the understanding of environmental and health risks. Input from scientific institutions from Member States should also be used when implementing the action plan, said ministers. Furthermore, consultative and technical working groups established by the Commission, the Council notes, should work closely with scientists, taking into account their work and their advice. In the first stage of the action plan, the Council calls on the Commission to develop a research base for the socio-economic evaluation of the impact of environmental and health policies and measures, with a particular focus on the health of children and other vulnerable groups. In addition, the Commission was asked to consider including, in the first stages of the action plan, research on the less explored health and environmental threats such as indoor pollution, noise and contaminated water.