European Parliament News: MEPs want the EU to play a stronger role in improving public health

In a debate on the EU’s future public health strategy, MEPs said COVID-19 has shown that the EU needs stronger tools to deal with health emergencies.

In the plenary debate with Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and the Council, preceding Friday’s vote on a resolution on the EU’s public health strategy post-COVID-19, MEPs highlighted the need to draw the right lessons from the COVID-19 crisis. Many argued for the need to give the EU a far stronger role in the area of health.

While emphasising that the current pandemic is still far from over, MEPs underlined the need to ensure that health systems across the EU are better equipped and coordinated to face future health threats as no member state can deal with a pandemic such as COVID-19 alone.

Several MEPs mentioned that a stronger EU role in the area of public health must include measures to tackle shortages of affordable medicines and protective equipment as well as support to research.

Some MEPs requested that the European health agencies ECDC and EMA be strengthened, while others argued for the need for a European Health Union with EU minimum standards.

The vote on the resolution will take place on Friday afternoon, with results being announced at 18.00.

Background

Primary responsibility for public health and, in particular, healthcare systems lies with the member states. However, the EU has an important role to play in improving public health, preventing and managing diseases, mitigating sources of danger to human health, and harmonising health strategies between member states.

Parliament has consistently promoted the establishment of a coherent EU public health policy and in a resolution on the post-2020 EU budget revision and economic recovery plan, MEPs insisted that a new stand-alone European health programme should be created.

The Commission has since presented a proposal for 9.4 billion EUR EU4Health programme for 2021-2027 as part of the Next Generation EU recovery plan

To watch the full debate, click here.


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