IRELAND South MEP Deirdre Clune said the Covid-19 pandemic has put EU action in the field of healthcare under the spotlight.
MEP Clune said that it is vital that Europe continues to work together in unity and this will help when it comes to tackling future healthcare crises.
A recent Eurobarometer poll revealed that 78% of Irish respondents agree that the EU should have more competences to deal with crises such as the Coronavirus pandemic.
MEP Clune said: “Until recently, there has not been much coordination in the area of healthcare in Europe. At an EU level the interest to move forward jointly and to share information and resources is stronger now. We can see that with the coordinated effort to secure vaccines for member states.
“Covid-19 has demonstrated that the EU is stronger when member states act together.”
The EU4Health programme is a demonstration of this new spirit and interest, according to MEP Clune.
The EU4Health programme is the fourth and largest of the EU Health Programmes since their inception in 2003, with a dedicated budget of €5.1 billion allocated to it under the agreement by the European Parliament and Council on the next multiannual financial framework.
Assisting member states in developing quality healthcare standards at national level will be one of the programme’s specific objectives.
“The EU4Health programme maintains focus on practical and coordinated measures the European Institutions can take in tackling future health challenges.
“By making health systems more resilient, the EU4Health programme will thoroughly prepare the EU for major and serious cross-border health threats.
“This should strengthen and enable EU health systems in tackling future epidemics, but also long-term challenges such as an ageing population and health inequalities.”
Funding from the EU4Health programme, will go towards a new European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority which will support an improved EU-level response to cross-border health threats.
Health priorities will be strengthened and enhanced, such as initiatives like the European Reference Networks for rare diseases, the fight against cancer, reducing the number of antimicrobial-resistant infections and improving international cooperation on global health threats and challenges.
“The current health crisis has reaffirmed national health systems dependence on non-European countries to supply medicine, personal protective equipment and medical devices. The programme will therefore support actions, which foster the production, procurement and management of such crisis-relevant products in the EU in order to make them more available and affordable.
“Actions to develop medicinal products and medical devices that are less harmful for the environment will also be encouraged through the programme.”
The EU4Health programme will further encourage more collaborative action and co-ordination between EU Member States.
The European Parliament and the Council will now formally approve the legal texts.