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EU4Health for a strengthened health system


The European Parliament gave yesterday green light for the new EU4Health programme for 2021-2027. The new programme’s main objectives include strengthening health systems by supporting countries to coordinate with each other and share data, as well as making medicines and medical devices more available, accessible and affordable.

EU4Health was proposed by the Commission on 28 May 2020 as a response to COVID-19 pandemic to foster the recovery. The Parliament endorsed yesterday the provisional agreement reached with the Council with 631 votes in favour, 32 against and 34 abstentions.

This is an important step towards making €5.1 billion available to strengthen the resilience of health systems and promote innovation in the health sector. It is the largest health programme ever in monetary terms and will provide funding to EU countries, health organisations and NGOs.

Main objectives 

The programme aims to contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery by making the European 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.

EU4Health aims to:

  • Make health systems more resilient to deal with cross-border health threats like COVID-19 and improve crisis management capacity. This should enable Europe to face not only future epidemics, but also long-term challenges such as an ageing population and health inequalities.
  • Make the European Health Union a reality by investing in cancer care, better pandemic preparedness, availability of medicines and innovation; Promoting access to quality healthcare, including access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, improving mental health and accelerating the fight against cancer will also be supported.
  • Boost digital health and disease prevention. The programme will also support actions linked to e-health and the creation of the European “health data space”.
  • Fight health inequalities, both between member states and between different social groups.

Next steps

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.

Once the Council has also formally approved the regulation, it will enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. The regulation will apply retroactively from 1 January 2021.

Sources: European Parliament and European Commission

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