ESIP calls for a more ambitious EU4Health Programme

On 21 July, European leaders reached an agreement on the EU budget for the next seven years for a total amount of €1.074 billion. They also agreed on the temporary Next Generation EU instrument providing an additional €750 billion to support economic recovery which will be raised on the financial markets by the European Commission on behalf of the EU.

ESIP, as representative of national social security and healthcare systems, welcomes the agreement, and in particular the temporary support to be provided to Member States to face the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for national health and social security systems in the European Union. Social security systems play a key role in providing healthcare, sickness benefits, unemployment benefits and much more to insured persons, during this pandemic and beyond. As information we collected among our Members shows, exceptional measures have been introduced across the EU to simplify access to benefits and provide additional benefits to those most affected. EU support to public budgets via the Recovery and Resilience Facility in particular is key in supporting the necessary public investment.

However, we view with concern the significant cuts to health, research and innovation and digital programmes under the MFF 2021-2027 as agreed upon by the European Council. Notably, the flagship EU4Health programme would receive only EUR 1.7 billion from the MFF 2021-2027, compared to the initial Commission proposal of a €9.4 billion overall budget. We have consistently advocated for a strong separate Health Programme and considers that this proposal will not allow for sufficient ambition to tackle the long-term health challenges we are facing. We therefore share the concerns raised in the European Parliament’s resolution adopted on 23 July deploring these cuts. We now encourage EU decision-makers to improve on the Council agreement during the upcoming interinstitutional negotiations and continue to guarantee an ambitious health policy for the EU.

Irrespective of Member States’ responsibility in the definition of health policy and organisation of healthcare systems, health policy at EU level is crucial to ensure the well-being of the EU’s population. The COVID-19 pandemic has proved than now more than ever, good health is a precondition to economic growth.

 Photo: © European Union 2020 - Source : EP