EU Party Manifestos2014 Campaign Manifestos: Analyses and Patient Input Every five years, patients get the opportunity to have a say on what is important to us with the European Parliament Elections and the new Commission. Being informed as voters is important to ensure that we cast our votes for candidates who will help build a Europe that works for us. While health is not specifically an EU issue, the EU controls structural funds and research monies that affect health systems and the patients that use them. EPF has analysed the elections manifestos of EPP, PES, ALDE and the European Greens to see whether and how these political parties plan to prioritise health and patients in the coming mandate.
2: "healthy life"
1: healthcare "as a crucial component of our society"
EPP: Why Vote for the Political Family of the European People‘s Party?
In their manifesto, the EPP seeks to create “a better Europe for all citizens“ and calls on Europeans to “work together to build on (...) values (...) of individual freedoms and economic rights“ (pg. 2) as these values are key in creating a Union that benefits all. The document outlines a Europe where citizens are “able to look to their future with confidence again“ (pg. 2). Part of this is recreating a strong European economy, and EPP suggests that “sustainable and targeted investment [in research and technology] is key“ to creating more innovation (pg.3). Development policy improving in effectiveness, accountability and sustainability is listed as a clear need to build a better Europe.
EPF: We want to vote for patient-friendly candidates!
- “A better Europe for all citizens“ starts with empowered citizens. We patients must be engaged collectively and proactively through their patient organisations in order to help guide and improve health-related investments that offer real-life, cost-effective value.
- The EPP manifesto outlines a Europe where Europeans are “able to look to their future with confidence again“. As patients, we want to be ensured that their views are included in health research and decision-making to ensure high-quality, sustainable healthcare. Given the opportunity, we can provide invaluable insights for developing effective, high-quality healthcare systems that tangibly improve quality of life and result in more cost-effective investment of public and private funds.
- The EPP believes that “sustainable and targeted investment is key“. As healthcare users, we need to be involved in guiding research to deliver new and better treatments. Meaningful, patient-led research is more cost-effective in terms of meeting real-life needs and will lead to valuable treatments and innovation. EPF’s 2014 Elections Campaign revolves largely around restructuring investment in healthcare research and technology by incorporating the patients‘voice to create health systems with more value.
Health and patients are not mentioned in the EPP Manifesto. We are therefore asking the EPP how they plan to incorporate the important issue of health, as well as the engagement of European patients in the healthcare system into their work for the next mandate.
ALDE: A Europe That Works
The ALDE manifesto outlines a “Europe that works for us all” via emphasis on “genuine democracy and the will of its citizens” (pg. 1), and an adherence to the “promise that everyone has the opportunity to improve their own life” (pg. 1). ALDE is interested in “rethinking the whole budget process” to determine how European money can be most effectively spent (pg. 4), which includes listening at the appropriate “local, regional, national or EU level that serves citizens best and most directly” (pg. 7). The ALDE manifesto also calls for more accountability from member states to prove that EU money that is spent provides “added value” (pg. 4) to citizens and suggests the stripping of entitlement funds when quality-of-life goals are not met within in specific period (pg. 4). Overall, the manifesto translates to ALDE’s desire to create a more efficient, more accountable Europe whose initiatives add value to citizens’ lives.
EPF: A Europe That Works for Patients!
- EPF believes that a Europe that works for all Europeans, that respects individual choices and provides the opportunity for people to improve their own lives in terms of health is a Europe that listens to patients! We, patients of all ages and conditions, live with our chronic disease every day and regularly use health services. We have a unique perspective on healthcare. We are experts on what works for us and what does not. We can therefore guide decision-makers collectively, through our patients’ organisations, on how to offer good quality care that is also cost-effective.
- The ALDE manifesto mentions the Party’s interest in “rethinking the whole budget process”. In terms of healthcare budgets, this initiative could benefit greatly from increased patient involvement in policy-making. EPF asks for meaningful patient involvement in research to lead to treatments that provide real value. Patient-centred, integrated healthcare will lead to better quality of life for patients and our carers. Effective budgeting can help break down health inequalities throughout the EU and create more cost-effective, equitable and sustainable health systems for all. In other words, we will create a healthier Europe.
- Empowered patients are an asset to society. Increasing Member State accountability to prove that EU money spent provides “added value” in terms of health-related structural funds and research can benefit greatly from patients that have been empowered to be full partners in the management of our conditions. Investing in tailored, high-quality information and health literacy will enable us to better understand our options about treatment and care and provide meaningful feedback on the value of EU-funded initiatives.
Health and patients are not mentioned in the ALDE Manifesto. We are therefore asking ALDE how they plan to incorporate the important issue of health, as well as the engagement of European patients in the healthcare system into their work for the next mandate.
PES: Towards a New Europe
The PES manifesto outlines the party’s plan to recreate Europe into “a Europe that progresses (…) protects…[and] performs” (pg.1) in the next parliamentary session. Creating a “social Europe” which includes healthcare as a “crucial component of our society” (pg. 2) and provides opportunities to Europeans by investing in education, research and knowledge (pg. 2) is the backbone of this vision. PES believes that “the principle of equality must be at the heart of what it means to be a European citizen” (pg. 3). The right of Europeans to enjoy safe products and the need for citizens to have more power as consumers are also mentioned (pg. 3). PES further seeks to create a Europe with “more democracy and participation” (pg. 3) and will encourage decisions to be made in the direct interests of European citizens--be it at the local, regional, national or EU level (pg. 4).
EPF: Towards a New Europe Where the Patient Voice Builds Better Healthcare Systems!
- We agree with PES’ statement that healthcare is a “crucial component of society” because high-quality, sustainable and appropriate healthcare will enable Europeans to reach their capacities to live full and productive lives and contribute to society. If “the principle of equality must be at the heart of what it means to be a European citizen”, we must work to break down access barriers and provide universal access to quality healthcare so that all Europeans can enjoy the same opportunities a healthy life provides.
- PES believes that increased citizen participation will lead to more valuable decisions to be made on local, regional, national and EU levels. As patients, our views matter especially in healthcare decision-making as we live with our chronic diseases every day and regularly use health services. We have become “experts by experience” can offer a unique perspective on healthcare. Listening to us at the local, regional, national or EU level can help guide decision-makers on how to offer high-quality, cost-effective care. This can be achieved by investing in education (health literacy) for patients.
- The manifesto mentions the right of Europeans to have power as consumers. Patients are consumers of healthcare and have the right to enjoy safe and high-quality healthcare products. Meaningful patient involvement in the design, research and reporting of these products will not only lead to safer, more valuable products, but an overall healthier Europe.
EPF commends PES on considering healthcare as a crucial component of our society. We would further like to know if PES supports the idea that this crucial aspect of society can benefit from a stronger patients’ voice and how they plan to commit to strengthening the patients’ voice in the next parliamentary session.
Greens-EFA: Another Road for Europe
The Greens-EFA manifesto surrounds the idea that Europeans have the responsibility to renew the democratic values of the EU in order to strengthen the common future of all Europeans (pg. 1). The party calls for the “fair and [gradual improvement of] minimum social standards in Europe” and includes public health in these social standards. To defend and strengthen the important aspects of society (including health), the Greens call for a “more vigorous democracy” (pg. 16). European citizens are also strongly emphasized as the real “decision makers” in Europe, and the Greens want to strengthen opportunities for citizens to influence decisions (pg. 16). “Protect Health and Safety” (pg. 9) is a segment in the manifesto concerned with maintaining an environment that is conducive to improved public health—a theme that resonates throughout the entire document.
EPF: Another Road for Health!
- Universal access to quality healthcare is a basic EU citizens’ right, but still not a reality for many of us – a situation made worse by the economic crisis. “Fairly and gradually improving minimum social standards in Europe” must include working towards equal access to high-quality healthcare for all citizens. All patients in the EU deserve equitable access to care and the chance to meaningfully contribute to society as healthy individuals.
- “For a more vigorous democracy”, strengthening opportunities for European patients to be heard by and have influence over health decision-makers at the policy-making level is key to create a more equitable health system. Patients have not only the democratic right but the expertise to be full partners in decision-making that affects us as we live with our diseases every day. We can guide decision-makers on how to offer good quality care that is also cost effective and provides real value. In order to do this, we must be engaged collectively and proactively through our patient organisations in policy decision-making.
- EPF agrees with the Greens that we need to strengthen opportunities for citizens to influence decisions. Empowering citizens to participate in government is vital to achieving this. In healthcare, empowered patients are an asset to society. An EU-strategy on patient empowerment that includes an action plan on health literacy and high-quality information to patients will result in more responsible and conscious healthcare users. Empowered patients become more active partners in our health and will reduce the health, social and economic costs of being sick, thus leading to more sustainable health systems.
The Greens clearly make public health and an increased democratic voice priorities in their manifesto. EPF would further like to know if the European Greens believe that public health can be sustainably and responsibly improved via an increased patient voice in healthcare policy-making and how they plan to implement this in the coming mandate.