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UEHP News OCTOBER 2013


EUPOPEAN ECONOMY
The Second Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece- Fourth Review – April 2014


EUPOPEAN ECONOMY
The Second Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece- Second Review – May 2013


Health Professional Mobility in a Changing Europe
New dynamics, mobile individuals and diverse responses



Von der Leyen speech on the State of European Union: 'It is time' for a 'strong European health union'

Dear UEHP members,

As you know, this morning, the European Commission's President, Ursula Von der Leyen, held her first annual speech on the state of the EU to the European Parliament.

Usually, health policy is lucky to be mentioned at all during a State of the Union address. (Commission President Jean Claude Juncker rarely discussed health policy — except for an unusual intervention on vaccines in 2017 that led to the star-studded vaccine summit in 2019.) That changed this time around, when Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered her first address this morning and layed out some lessons of the coronavirus pandemic for future EU health initiatives.

It’s time for the European Union to bolster its health competence, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said today. “It is crystal clear: We need to build a strong European health union,” von der Leyen said. “It is time to do that.”

One of her key proposals is creating a European version of the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to help the EU better respond during emergencies relating to cross-border threats.The EU also needs strategic stockpiling and should fix its supply chain issues, especially for pharmaceutical goods, she said.Furthermore, she noted, there’s a need to “reinforce” existing European health agencies such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). More broadly, it’s “clearer than ever that we must discuss the question of health competencies” at the Conference on the Future of Europe, she said, drawing applause from parliamentarians. The Commission president also mentioned the EU4Health program, which was cut from nearly €10 billion to nearly €2 billion during negotiations with the Council over the bloc’s long-term budget. Von der Leyen said it’s time to make the program “future proof,” and added she’s “grateful” that the European Parliament will “fight for more” money. Last, von der Leyen said, she will convene a global health summit in Italy next year, when Italy will head the G20 Presidency.

Specifically on the EU action to fight the pandemic, President Ursula von der Leyen patted Europe on the back today for not adopting a “Europe first” policy when it comes to its coronavirus response. Without naming names, von der Leyen noted that other countries chose to “retreat into isolation” while others opted to “actively destabilize the system.” By contrast, “Europe chose to reach out,” she said, as she delivered her first speech on the state of the EU to MEPs. As an example, she cited the EU’s decision to send planes with tons of medical equipment to countries in need, including Sudan, Venezuela and Somalia. Most notably, however, von der Leyen pointed to the Commission’s work in establishing the Coronavirus Global Response. After two online events, it has raised roughly €16 billion toward ensuring global access to affordable vaccines, therapeutics and tests. “At the beginning of the pandemic, there was no funding, no global framework for a COVID-19 vaccine,” she said. “There was just the rush to be the first one to get one.” She pointed to how the Commission pledged €400 million toward the COVAX facility, an effort by the World Health Organization and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to get wealthier countries to help finance vaccines for low- and middle-income countries. Furthermore, Von der Leyen said, Europe should take the lead in reforming the WHO.

She made those comments amid ongoing criticism that the Commission’s vaccine strategy — which it unveiled in June to allow Brussels to advance purchase coronavirus vaccines — is de facto a “Europe First” policy. The Commission’s involvement with COVAX is also unclear, as it has yet to clarify whether it will procure vaccines through the facility or just give money.

Those are the key takeaway for healthcare from today's speech in front of the European parliament. If you wish to read more on the full speech: 

https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/strategic-planning/
state-union-addresses/state-union-2020_en

 

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