The EU Commission's development plan under the banner of health.

RB – 06/2020

The coronavirus pandemic poses major challenges to the societies, economies and health and social systems of Member States across Europe. The coming years will be characterised by driving forward socio-economic development and revitalising and strengthening the internal market, ensuring a level playing field and supporting much needed investment, particularly in environmental and digital change.

To this end, on 27th May 2020, the European Commission presented a "Next Generation EU" development plan which is to supplement the multi-year EU budget 2021-2027 by 750 billion euros.

EU4Health Programme

National health systems and public health services were under heavy strain during the pandemic. The visible challenges for medical staff, patients and health systems in Europe have led the EU Commission to include the EU4Health Programme in the Next Generation EU Development Plan with a budget of €9.4 billion. The aim will be to fill identified gaps in coordination between Member States, to improve preparedness for future cross-border threats to health and to strengthen the sustainability of health systems. The following fields of action are planned and are based on the idea of implementing the lessons learned from the crisis:

1. Combating cross-border health threats

The EU intends to develop stronger practices to combat cross-border health threats. The building up of reserves of medical material for crisis situations will play a central role and should lessen the impact during times when demand is increased.

In addition to the material reserves, a medical personnel reserve of "flying doctors" which can be used in EU-wide health crises is to be established. Stricter monitoring of health risks is also planned.

2. Financing and access to medicines and medical devices

In order to maintain healthcare, drugs, medical devices and other care related goods must be available and affordable in sufficient quantities. The pandemic has exposed existing structural challenges in the production and supply chains of drugs and was exacerbated by the unexpected increase in demand for drugs to treat COVID-19 patients. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the EU Commission will publish its drug strategy, which will address these and other challenges in the European drug market.

3. Resilience of health systems

With the EU4Health Programme, the EU Commission wants to invest in the future of a healthier EU. To improve the resilience of health systems and the health of the population, further efforts will be made in prevention and health promotion and to improve access to health care. The programme will invest in public health and in the digital transformation of health systems.

Impact on existing Commission health priorities

In addition to the above measures, the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, rescEU, will be increased by EUR 2 billion to a total of EUR 3.1 billion to extend and strengthen the Mechanism to enable the Union to prepare for and respond to future crises.

For Horizon Europe, the EU's Next Generation Development Plan allocates €94.4 billion to fund basic research in the areas of health and resilience, and green and digital change.

Under the aspect of a more resilient EU, strategic autonomy in certain areas is emphasised in order to improve crisis prevention and crisis management.


In the field of public health, the European Commission intends to strengthen the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and give more powers to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to coordinate medical interventions in times of crisis.