As Europe is coping with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Parliament's committee on the environment, public health and food safety is voting today for an ambitious stand-alone health programme for the 2021-2027 period - the so-called EU4Health Programme of €9.4 billion. For the Socialists and Democrats, this is a big step closer towards a European Health Union, they proposed back in May in response to Covid-19.
With the €9.4 billion budget, as supported by the MEPs, (compared to €1.7 billion proposed by the European Council) the EU4Health Programme would boost EU’s preparedness for major cross-border health threats, strengthen health systems to face epidemics as well as long-term challenges, and help reduce the health inequalities and ensure universal healthcare access to all.
S&D MEP and shadow rapporteur on EU4Health Programme, Sara Cerdas, said:
“The EU4Health Programme is the most ambitious health programme in the EU’s history. It should create real added value for all EU citizens by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention and investing in public health actions. There is evidence that these interventions have a return on investment of 14 euros for each euro invested. At the same time, we should create a European framework to tackle non-communicable diseases and improve the preparedness for future health crises and support research and development within EU.
“That is why we cannot accept the cuts proposed by the European Council. The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed many health inequalities and gaps in our health systems that we have to fill. We may have been unprepared this year for the Covid-19 pandemic, but the citizens would not forgive us if our health systems were not ready to face future crises. We need an ambitious EU4Health Programme as a tool to make sure that our European universal healthcare in indeed available to all, as everybody has a fundamental right to health.”
S&D spokesperson in the environment committee, Jytte Guteland, added:
“I am proud that the EU4Health Programme will contribute to the calls of the European Health Union concept my group proposed in response to Covid-19, for instance on the creation of a European Health Data Space, stress testing of national healthcare systems and the establishment of a European Health Response Mechanism. These are important measures to strengthen Europe's efforts to protect the health of our citizens.
“The right to physical and mental health is a fundamental human right. Every person, without discrimination, has the right to access modern and comprehensive healthcare. For us Socialists and Democrats, it is fundamental that all citizens can access high quality and affordable health care in Europe. An ambitious EU4Health Programme is a milestone in the creation of a European Health Union and the S&D Group will keep fighting to ensure that the EU gets it right.”
Note to editors:
The final vote of the ENVI committee’s position will take place on Wednesday 14 October, after which the file will go to the Plenary and the inter-institutional negotiations.