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EU increases budget to EU4Health programme

Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, credit: EU

The European Commission welcomed on Tuesday the vote of the European Parliament on the EU4Health programme, making €5.1 billion available to strengthen the resilience of health systems and promote innovation in the health sector.

The budget for the programme has varied since it was announced by the Commission in 2020. The total budget was reduced from €9.4 billion to €1.7 billion by the Special European Council last July but the Parliament decided to triple it to €5.1 billion.

EU4Health is expected to make a significant contribution to the post-COVID-19 recovery by making the EU population healthier, support the fight against cross-border health threats and boost the EU’s preparedness and capability to respond effectively to future health crises, as part of a future strong European Health Union.

Health issues, however, continue to be a national competency and treaty changes would be required to change that. Health policy and lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic will be discussed at the forthcoming Conference on the Future of Europe and participants are free to free to raise any issues that matter to them.

“The crisis hit us all symmetrically, with no discrimination,” said Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas. “But at the same time, we were faced with an asymmetry between citizens’ expectations and the limited EU responsibilities on health issues. With today’s agreement, we are making the first decisive step to bridge this gap.”

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, added that, “Our new EU4Health programme is the foundation of a resilient and strong European Health Union. It is our answer to the gaps revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent need to modernise the EU’s health systems. Today we are sending a clear message that public health is a priority for Europe.

EU4Health aims to:

  • Make health systems more resilient to deal with cross-border health threats like COVID-19 and improve crisis management capacity;
  • Make the European Health Union a reality by investing in cancer care, better pandemic preparedness, availability of medicines and innovation; and
  • Boost digital health and disease prevention.

The programme now needs to be adopted by the Council before it can enter into force. The first work programme for 2021 will be rolled out following the formal adoption of EU4Health.

The Brussels Times