Building a stronger EU Health Union: where to start?

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted the need to build a stronger European Health Union in her first State of the Union speech. [SHUTTERSTOCK]

The European Union is committed to scaling up its role on public health, at the time when well-known diseases such as cancer and obesity intertwine with new cross-border health threats.

Drawing lessons from this year’s pandemic, which exposed flaws in the EU’s health systems, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted the need to build a stronger European Health Union in her first State of the Union address.

The Commission president also relaunched the idea of rethinking health competence, which is currently in the hands of member states.

However, the renewed ambition has been undermined by the heavy cuts to the proposed €9.4 billion EU4Health Programme, which has been reduced to a mere €1.7 billion after pressure from the so-called frugal countries – Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden – at July’s EU summit.

In this context, underlining EU priorities on diseases prevention and effective treatment becomes crucial to better design this EU Health Union to come.

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