Health threats: boosting EU readiness and crisis management

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The EU is proposing to substantially increase its health funding by €9.4 billion through a new Europe-wide programme, EU4Health, which aims to strengthen Europe’s health systems to respond better to future major cross-border crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Covid-19 outbreak has shown the need for EU countries to better cooperate and coordinate in times of crisis and to strengthen the EU’s capacity to respond effectively to new cross-border health threats. Drawing on the lessons learnt, a new EU health programme named EU4Health aims to fill the gaps revealed by the pandemic. Member states are primarily competent for health policy, but the EU can complement and suport national measures and adopt legislation in specific sectors.

Besides better protection against and management of crises by strengthening member states’ health systems and delivering better care, the EU4Health programme also aims to improve health and foster innovation and investment.

The three main priorities of EU4Health focus on protecting people from serious cross-border health threats, improved availability of medicines and provide for stronger health systems. TheEU4Health is part of the Next Generation EU recovery plan presented by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on 27 May in plenary. In a resolution on the post-2020 EU budget revision and economic recovery plan, adopted on 15 May, MEPs had insisted on the creation of a new stand-alone European health programme.

In a debate with Commissioner Stella Kyriakides on 28 May, the environment and public health committee welcomed the ambitious plans, as Parliament has consistently promoted the establishment of a coherent EU public health policy. In a resolution adopted on 17 April, Parliament called for a dedicated budget to support national healthcare sectors during the crisis, as well as for investment post-crisis to make health-care systems more resilient and focused on those most in need.

The programme will cover the 2021-2027 period, but all measures relating to the post crisis recovery are set to be applied in the first years.

Tackling cross-border health threats

The programme aims to strengthen prevention, preparedness, surveillance and response in crisis times and improve coordination of emergency capacity. It aims to build reserves of medicines and medical supplies, healthcare staff and experts and provide technical assistance. RescEU, which is part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, will continue to provide rapid reaction and focus on direct crisis response capacities, while EU4Health would include strategic medical stockpiles for longer-term use and a reserve of medical staff who could be mobilised in case of a crisis.

The European Commission is proposing to invest New EU programme EU4Health aims to strengthen Europe’s health systems to respond better to future major cross-border crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Covid-19 outbreak has shown the need for EU countries to better cooperate and coordinate in times of crisis and to strengthen the EU’s capacity to respond effectively to new cross-border health threats. Drawing on the lessons learnt, a new EU health programme named EU4Health aims to fill the gaps revealed by the pandemic. Member states are primarily competent for health policy, but the EU can complement and suport national measures and adopt legislation in specific sectors.

Besides better protection against and management of crises by strengthening member states’ health systems and delivering better care, the EU4Health programme also aims to improve health and foster innovation and investment.

The programme will cover the 2021-2027 period, but all measures relating to the post crisis recovery are set to be applied in the first years.

The European Commission is proposing to invest €9.4 billion from the EU’s next long-term budget in the EU4Health programme, this is 23 times more than health funding for 2014-2020.9.4 billion from the EU’s next long-term budget in the EU4Health programme, this is 23 times more than health funding for 2014-2020.

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