The COVID-19 crisis has underlined how the European Union has so far been unable to protect its citizens effectively in the area of health. From the beginning of the crisis, Renew Europe MEPs have called upon the European Commission to draw the conclusions: we need to be better prepared for sanitary crises, coordinate the cross-border response and have the tools for research and acquisition of vaccines and medication to ensure they are accessible to all Europeans. The crisis also laid bare the shortcomings of health systems in some member states, particularly in the field of prevention and health promotion.
The immediate result is EU4Health, a stand-alone programme to put health systems and general health policies more firmly on the European radar. On 13 November, the European Parliament has finalised its position on the EU4Health programme, improving the focus on areas Renew Europe also highlighted.
ENVI shadow rapporteur Véronique Trillet-Lenoir MEP explains: “This is a step towards a strengthened European Union of Health, based on the concept of global health, and allowing us to meet the challenge of reducing health inequalities in Europe.”
The deal reached on the MFF, after a lot of pressure from the European Parliament, tripled the budget for EU4Health to €3.4 billion.
“A tangible improvement, because if funded correctly, EU4Health would greatly benefit our citizens,” argues Nicolae Ştefănută MEP, who reported on the file in the BUDG committee. “If there is a lesson to be learned after the pandemic it is this: the EU must do better on health. EU4Health is the first programme going in that direction, but this should be only the start of a 'Union of Health'. I am happy that the European Parliament succeeded in reducing the cuts made by the European Council in July and bring the EU4Health budget closer to its ambitions,” she said
Chrysoula Zacharopoulou MEP, rapporteur in the FEMM committee, adds:
“I am particularly happy that sexual and reproductive health and rights are recognised as part of this programme. Including gender and sex variables in our public health policies is the sine qua non to fill in the knowledge gap regarding women’s health. This programme is a crucial step towards a fair and more inclusive Europe for health.”