As of 2023, six Member States have taken legal measures to counter financial discrimination against cancer survivors. France was the first to act on the matter and passed a law on the Right to be Forgotten for cancer survivors in January 2016, Belgium followed suit in March 2018. From January 2021, the Netherlands adopted the ‘clean-slate policy’, implementing the Right to be Forgotten, with the Portuguese policymakers adopting the law in January 2022. Romania passed a similar law in July 2022, making it a pioneering country in the CEE region. The most recent EU country that adopted the law is Spain which became the sixth country deciding to protect cancer survivors from financial discriminations in July 2023. 

The Right to be Forgotten affects adults differently, depending on when the disease occurred. According to the provisions in France, the Netherlands and Portugal, adults whose cancer diagnosis occurred before the age of 18 years (in Romania) or 21 years (France, the Netherlands and Portugal) would be forgotten 5 years after the end of treatment.

For individuals who receive treatment as adults, the situation is as follows: adults’ medical history would be forgotten after 10 years (the Netherlands, Portugal) following the end of their treatment (8 years in Belgium, 7 years in Romania, and 5 years in France and Spain) and without any evidence of relapse or recurrence.

In Belgium, a similar legislative proposal to the French law was adopted, namely:

  • the number of years cancer survivors have to wait to “be forgotten”; from 10 to 8 years (once the law enters into force), and to 5 years as of January 2025;
  • for cancer survivors who have been cured before the age of 21, the period is shortened to 5 years
  • the right to be forgotten would also be extended to guaranteed income insurance for all workers, regardless of employment status, as the current law only concerns outstanding balance insurance.

Adopted legislative pieces vary depending on the implementing country, rendering it challenging to develop an EU-wide definition of the right to be forgotten. The common point, however, remains the same: to protect cancer survivors against financial discrimination, after a specific period of time has passed.

In addition to the general provisions, there are local specificities to keep in mind :

  • The Belgian law has no maximal amount for the mortgage while there is a limit of 278.004€ (adjusted once every three years) in the Netherlands;
  • Belgium is the only country with a legal framework in place where cancer survivors are obligated to communicate their cancer history for all insurance (in France, Spain, Romania, the Netherlands and Portugal, cancer survivors have the right not to disclose it when applying for life insurance). In France, the situation has evolved through the years, and now cancer survivors are exempt from notifying their cancer history in medical questionnaires after the five-year recovery period for the insurance contracts occurring before the borrower’s 71st birthday, and for any loan with a maximum amount of 200,000€ per person and when the loan matures before the loaner’s 60th birthday, medical questionnaires are abandoned.
  • France and Belgium have developed reference grids that provide specific conditions for non-invasive cancers. These lists include specific conditions and shorter delays for cancers with an excellent prognosis. These lists of exceptions are reviewed either annually or every 2 years according to medical progress and statistics (mortality rate). These laws also cover other diseases than cancer such as Hepatitis C and VIH infections.

Please find here the compared information about the exceptions. The Belgian law has no maximal amount for the mortgage while there is a limit of 278.004€ (adjusted once every three years) in the Netherlands. 

Other countries have adopted non-legislative frameworks which take the form of Conventions between the government and insurers (Luxemburg) and self-regulatory codes of conduct (Ireland, Denmark, Cyprus, Greece, Finland). 

MEASURES IN PLACE IN THE EU/EEA (click on individual countries for more details)