EU4Health to tackle the impact of the pandemic

The EU4Health programme aims to protect European citizens from cross-border health threats, improve the availability of medicines and medical devices in the EU, and strengthen national health systems and the healthcare workforce that can be mobilised. The compromised amendments for the Committee report were voted on by the ENVI committee on 13 and 14 October, and the on the EU4Health Programme was adopted. On 13 November, the European Parliament adopted the amendments to the EU4Health programme.

Negotiations on the financial package have been a key point of contention between the Parliament and the Council over the last few months, but on 10 November the European Commission welcomed the agreement between the European Parliament and EU Member States in the Council on Europe's next long-term budget for 2021-2027, including EU4Health. One of the key achievements can be associated with the tripling of the financial envelope, wherein the programme will now receive a total of €5.1billion in comparison to the €1.7billion proposed by Member States. Rapporteur Cristian-Silviu Buşoi (EPP, RO) noted that the increase in fund allocation is more reflective of the ambitious objectives of the EU4Health programme, which focus on making EU health systems more resilient in the face of future health threats and ensuring equitable access to medicines and medical devices.

Moreover, in view of the demonstrated vulnerabilities of medicine and medical devices supply chains, the programme would aim to establish a European system for monitoring, reporting and flagging pertinent shortages, thus reducing dependence on third countries and ensuring their availability and affordability. It was also stated that education campaigns should be organised to address blood product shortages, encouraging the donation of blood component, organs, tissues and cells.

Following adoption of the EU4Health file at Parliamentary level, negotiations with Member States will ensue. The implementation of the programme is still foreseen to commence as of 2021.

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