European health policy should be more than mitigating the effects of the single market

Credit: European Commission

Investment in health is still within the EU’s reach, as proved by a letter of 1 March from European Commission President Juncker and Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger sent to their colleagues in the European Commission, outlining their plans for the next five-year budget, the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF).

“As the voice of patients in Europe, we are positively noting that the European Commission understands the necessity of continued investment in health,” says Nicola Bedlington, Secretary General of EPF. “We call for an ambitious health policy, responding to the needs of citizens and are ready to bring the patient community on board.”

Investing in people vs mitigating the single market

In the annex to the letter, listing the main EU programmes, the EU’s Health Programme budget would be included under a broader category entitled “singled market” along with other subjects.

Instead of a separate Health Programme, “food safety; human, plant and animal health” would be merged into tools relating to the single market, but a footnote provides a key opportunity: “The inclusion of a separate health programme as part of an investing in people cluster remains a possible option.”

In the context of the #EU4HEALTH Campaign, EPF, together with many other public health NGOs, is calling for enhanced health collaboration. We are therefore happy to see health among the scope of EU priorities, and encourage the European Commission to be more ambitious.

The challenges we are facing, such as the burden of non-communicable diseases and cross-border health threats, are not going away. Furthermore, the EU has taken commitments on the global scene within the 2030 SDGs. These circumstances fully justify the existence of a stand-alone and well-resourced health policy, under strong leadership.

We think that the importance of health must be reflected in the future EU priorities. The EU has a health competence and a responsibility towards European patients and citizens to take action and to support Member States in providing better health for all.

“In the current scenario, we see health policy being relegated to be an instrument to mitigate the single market,” continues Nicola Bedlington, “but health is a precondition for economic prosperity, and more importantly a public good in itself!”


Click here for information about the #EU4HEALTH campaign.