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European Health Union

The European Commission has taken its first steps towards building the European Health Union as first announced by President von der Leyen in her State of the Union address.

President von der Leyen stated: “Our aim is to protect the health of all European citizens. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for more coordination in the EU, more resilient health systems, and better preparation for future crises. We are changing the way we address cross-border health threats. Today, we start building a European Health Union, to protect citizens with high quality care in a crisis and equip the Union and its Member States to prevent and manage health emergencies that affect the whole of Europe.”

 The Commission has put forward a set of proposals ( to strengthen the EU's health security framework, and to reinforce the crisis preparedness and response role of key EU agencies. In order to step up the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and future health emergencies, more coordination at EU level is needed. Drawing lessons from the current crisis, today's proposals will ensure stronger preparedness and response during the current and future health crises.

The proposals focus on revamping the existing legal framework for serious cross border threats to health, as well as reinforcing the crisis preparedness and response role of key EU agencies, namely the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Our collective efforts in EU4Health Civil Society Alliance were good investments. Let's take it as an encouraging sign that joint action would be fruitful in the future  

The European Parliament and Council settle on €5.1 billion health budget.

The European Commission proposed a new, ambitious stand-alone health programme for the 2021-2027 period – the EU4Health Programme of €9.4 billion. However, Member States reduced the amount to €1.7 billion, jeopardising the EU’s ability and ambition to strengthen healthcare systems and public health protection across EU countries.  

The new figure is triple the €1.7 billion agreed between the Commission and EU leaders over the summer.

This latest agreement — which still requires final consent from both the Parliament and Council — is the result of MEPs’ attempts to secure additional funds from the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget for flagship EU programs. An agreement between the Council and Parliament provides an extra €15 billion that will be given to key programs like the EU’s research program and Erasmus student exchange program.

A total of €3.4 billion in these additional funds would go to the health program, adding to its original €1.7 billion budget. 

The reduced budget originally put forward by the Council drew criticism from everyone from trade unions to civil society groups, as well as MEPs. In September, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen joined the fray in her State of the Union speech, urging MEPs to fight for more health money.

This budget increase is an outstanding achievement of the EC, EP and the civil society, and we have every reason to celebrate.  

The question is: How much can we in civil society shape the EHU and formulate our recommendations to the presented concept and if in parallel, we will be able to present our own narrative and more ambitious vision for a real EHU.?    

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