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Turning a new vision into reality: What next for the EU’s role in health?

Simona Guagliardo

Date: 21/01/2021
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, health has become a top priority for EU leaders. The first steps to revamp and strengthen the EU health agenda have been taken. However, to ‘build back better’ and make the most out of EU action in health, Europe must now lay the foundations for more resilient national health systems while centering the recovery on people’s well-being. All of this should be underpinned by a serious reflection on how the EU can bring added value.

In this Policy Brief, Simona Guagliardo proposes how this vision can turn into reality: 

  • Despite its limited competences, the EU can support member states in making their national healthcare systems more effective, accessible, and resilient, for instance, by encouraging them to prioritise investments in health system reforms in the context of the 2021 European Semester and the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
  • People’s health and well-being should be at the core of all policymaking. The EU must move away from only measuring progress in terms of economic growth.
  • A reflection on the feasibility and desirability of transferring some health competences to the EU level can no longer be ignored. The Conference on the Future of Europe should serve as a platform to engage with citizens and civil society and start the debate on levelling up the EU’s role in health policy.
The COVID-19 pandemic will not be the last pandemic Europe will ever have to face. Any tangible progress that the EU27 achieves in building a robust Health Union will not only be invaluable for managing today’s crisis, but also for preparing for future – and perhaps even more severe – health challenges.

Read the full paper here.
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