Cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the European Union (EU), and a public health burden. Improving cancer control in the EU will require implementation of efficient strategies within Member States and better policy coordination between them. In cooperation between the rotating EU Presidencies of Germany (2007), Portugal (2007) and Slovenia (2008), special attention was devoted to an integrated approach to cancer control in EU policies and programmes. A round-table focussed on national cancer plans, population-based cancer registries and cancer screening programmes was held during the Health Strategies in Europe meeting in Lisbon in July 2007, under the Portuguese Presidency. These three topics were selected as critical for improving cancer control at both national and European levels. The round-table was designed to produce a set of recommendations to inform EU cancer policy. This paper provides a résumé of the conclusions and recommendations, to stimulate wider discussion and policy development. The conclusions of the meeting were presented at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in December 2007 and cancer was included in the Council Conclusions for the new European Health Strategy. Success in cancer control will require consistent attention from future EU Presidencies, such as the initiative of the Slovenian EU Presidency in early 2008.