In a Communication from 20 September 2017 on ‘Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions’, the European Commission announced measures to promote cooperation between Member States, regions and other stakeholders in border regions. The Communication addresses five separate regulatory areas including health and improved labour mobility through the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
As stated in the Communication, it is a priority for the EU to encourage cooperation between Member States in order to improve complementarity of healthcare services in border regions. There are currently different structures and principles in place for the reimbursement of cross-border healthcare and this results in:
- different and complex procedures for the prior authorisation of healthcare services and payments/reimbursements,
- administrative burden for patients when consulting specialists in a neighbouring country,
- incompatibilities in the use of technology and in the sharing of patient data, or
- a lack of unified accessible information, including information in the patient’s language.
Limited access from both sides of the border hinders the full use of healthcare facilities. Emergency and rescue services are also sometimes prevented unnecessarily from carrying out cross-border duties.
As a concrete step towards improved cooperation, the EU Commission has meanwhile launched an online platform for border regions. It allows good practices to be exchanged and acts as a forum for those involved. Among other things, the platform will provide comprehensive mapping of cross-border healthcare cooperation across the EU. The EU Commission also intends to organise a strategic event to acknowledge good practices in cross-border healthcare cooperation and to explore how this cooperation can be developed throughout the Union.
Call for pilot projects in healthcare
On behalf of the EU Commission, the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) is managing the EU pilot initiative b-solutions. The initiative is currently calling for 20 pilot projects focussing on solutions for problems in border regions. Applications that have a good chance of being selected include projects that have sustainable methods of tackling legal and/or administrative obstacles along EU internal land borders. The projects must focus on one of five topics mentioned in the Communication from 20 September 2017. Each project selected can receive a grant up to a maximum of €20,000. Applications close on 30 April 2018 at 2.00 pm CET.
The b-solutions Call for Proposals can be downloaded here.