The European Parliament has just approved the ambitious agreement on the EU4Health programme, investing in health systems, promotion and prevention in the years to come.
‘With a budget of €5,1 billion, for which the Parliament fought really hard, this deal marks the first milestone on the way towards a true European Health Union,’ explains Renew Europe group rapporteur Véronique Trillet-Lenoir (Liste Renaissance, FR), ‘The set-up of the fund reflects 90% of the priorities our group defended during the negotiations.’
With EU4Health, there is a strong, shared commitment to addressing chronic diseases, setting up a European network of national cancer institutes and guaranteeing access to sexual and reproductive health care. The latter is something for which the FEMM committee and Renew Europe rapporteur Chrysoula Zacharopoulou (La République en marche, FR) had to put on a lot of pressure.
Lessons from the Covid pandemic were also drawn during the negotiations, so that the EU would be better prepared to deal with major health crises in the future. The mandate and resources of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) are strenghtened and a Health Emergency Response Authority (HERA or European Barda) will be created. Much more attention will go towards national health systems stress tests, developing health standards and further extending European reference networks to complex communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Health issues are not a traditional area of expertise for the European Union, so now for the first time the EU has outlined a clear and coherent vision on health. Negotiations with the Parliament’s Budget committe and MEP Nicolae Ștefănuță (Uniunea Salvați România, RO) in particular, made sure initial budget cuts from Council were largely undone.
‘An unprecedented achievement,’ concludes Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, ‘Yet it is just the start. The regulation on cross-border health threats is the next debate where we will push for better preparedness and a more common European response. And the Conference for the Future of Europe will allow us to truly shape our vision for the European Health Union going forward.’
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