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.
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.
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.