The objective of this opinion is to review the partially obsolete framework dating back to 2013 and to suggest changes to the current EU health security architecture.
More specifically, the opinions' objectives include:
the call for a strenghtened cooperation between the ECDC and local authorities
the review of the EU competencies in the field of public health in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
This opinion needs to be read in parallel - or indeed as an umbrella - to the opinions on the mandates of EMA and ECDC, pharmaceutical strategy, cross-border health threats as well as the forthcoming one on the HERA.
Its first key message, relating to the division of powers between the Member States and the EU, is taken on board in the design of the Conference on the Future of Europe panels, where "health" is featured as one of the 9 priority areas. The CoR is well represented in the process, both through its 18-person delegation to the Plenary, as well as via its political work (e.g. high-level debates in plenary sessions, commissions and political groups or the Summit of Regions and Cities during the French Presidency) and its outreach activities such as local dialogues with citizens and with regional and local authorities, high-level conferences or the European Week of Regions and Cities.
Several other key messages, notably around medicine supply, stockpiling, countermeasures as well as industrial capacity are echoed int he recently published proposal for the HERA Authority.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- notes that, although health policy remains a primary competence of Member States, a reflection is needed on how to improve coordination and strengthen the EU's response to cross-border health threats during the debate on the future of Europe. The CoR, as the EU's assembly of local and regional representatives, needs to be represented in all the discussions at EU level on health competences, including in the ambit of the Conference on the Future of Europe;
- regrets that the Communication does not specifically refer to the regional and local level as essential parties in health policy, only noting the role of border regions in cross-border cooperation on health;
- finds it necessary to invest more in scientific research, and to ensure the continuous development of digital tools, including the platform for surveillance established under Art. 14 of the regulation on serious cross-border threats to health; calls for LRAs to be involved in preparing, auditing and stress-testing the proposed binding national and EU level health crisis preparedness and response plans;
- considers it a strategic priority to promote basic telehealth services for the treatment and monitoring of home-based patients; stresses that telemedicine can increasingly transform the home into a place of care, with economic and social savings and high efficiency in treatment, prevention and healing;
- recommends that the proposed foresight activities and enhanced reporting requirements on healthcare data and performance include a regional dimension as well as the national one;
- calls for the joint EU procurement to be used also to ensure equal and affordable access to other important medicines and medical devices, especially for innovative antibiotics, new vaccines and curative medicines, and medicines for rare diseases;
- believes that the EU should seek to minimise its dependence on third countries with regard to the production of medicines and medical supplies; the companies which developed vaccines using public funds should share their patents with other companies to boost the production capacities in Europe.