Today, almost four years since the United Kingdom referendum on 23rd June 2016, the UK is finally leaving the European Union.
As Europe’s leading NGO alliance advocating for better public health, representing organisations from both the UK and other member states, we want to ensure the positive impact on public health and patient care from this collaboration over almost 50 years is not forgotten: by the setting of high standards in areas such as the safety of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, tobacco control, clean air and food safety; rule-making which errs on the side of caution until the evidence is clear; and the pooling of European resources for world-beating health research and innovation.
UK public health authorities, academia and health professions have long been global leaders in public health theory, policy and practice, multiplying and sharing this expertise across a continent of 500 million people. EPHA is also grateful for the contribution our British members have made to EPHA’s development, helping us to build a strong voice calling for equitable solutions to European public health challenges, to improve health and tackle health inequalities; and we are sure we will continue to work together to find answers to the common problems we face.
During the last four years, crucial implications of the UK’s departure have been identified in a number of areas of public health, including: health research, free movement of healthcare professionals, cross-border healthcare, availability of medicines and the role of regulatory agencies, and health policies and standards, among others
As the UK and the EU begin discussions on the shape of their new relationship, whatever the outcome, both the UK and the EU will continue to face common public health challenges which know no borders such as antimicrobial resistance or ensuring we can all breathe clean air.
We hope that given the talk about trade deals, tariffs and divorce bills which have dominated the last few years, all sides will now work towards developing a strong and collaborative future relationship which addresses the impacts for healthcare and puts the wider question of public health at the forefront of the discussions in the months ahead.