MEPs reject attempts to introduce healthcare in ‘Bolkestein Directive’


MEPs have rejected a specific EU legislation on health services, but urged the Commission to propose codification of the current case law on EU citizens’ right to seek healthcare in other member states, with costs covered by their own health system.

The European Parliament adopted, on 23 May 2007, an own-initiative report drafted by the Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on the consequences of the exclusion of health services from the scope of the Services Directive. The amended Report was adopted by 514 votes in favour to 132 against with eight abstentions. The amendment reintroducing health services into the ‘Bolkestein Directive’ on services in the internal market was rejected (see EURACTIV 9 May 2007).

The Parliament also rejected separate legislation on health services, but urged the Commission to propose “an appropriate instrument'” to codify the current case law developed by the European Court of Justice on the issue to guarantee the safeguarding of existing rights. The MEPs also agreed that member states should, with regard access to health service, treat all EU residents on an equal basis.

The Report represents Parliament’s answer to the Commission Communication (September 2006) on the establishment of an EU framework on healthcare services to ensure cross-border access to safe, high-quality and efficient care. The aim is to provide legal certainty for cross-border patients with regards, for example, reimbursement of care contracted in another country and to help co-operation between member states’ health services. 

Parliament’s own-initiative Reports are not binding. The Commission is expected to come up with concrete proposals for Community action on health services later in 2007. 

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