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Following the ‘Future of Europe’ scenarios, there has been much speculation about ‘doing less’ for health and whether certain policy files will be rerouted to other Directorates-General (DGs). Responsibility for health cannot be devolved to DGs whose primary aim is the economic advancement of affected industrial sectors. It is important to devote the responsibility of health to DG whose primary aim is health.

In order to meet citizens’ expectations, (1) health requires specific political drive and dedicated commission resources a Vice-president for health is needed with the following primary responsibilities:

Leadership: to act on the will of Member State governments on EU health collaboration, better ensure policy coherence for health across all legislation and programmes of the EU, putting health first in impact assessment, and management of health crises, or emergencies.

Subsidiarity: to ensure that the subsidiarity principle is respected, particularly with regard to organisation of health systems and services, whilst encouraging valuable sharing of knowledge, experience and scale-up.

Implementation: to facilitate and oversee the effective implementation of existing legislation, ensuring achievement of health protection objectives of the Lisbon Agenda and SDGs; to apply the results of EU funded health research and implement recommendations, e.g. of the Joint Actions, to improve health outcomes.

Participation: to facilitate further cooperation in the field of health and healthcare, on the request of Member States; and establish an effective policy dialogue with all health stakeholders and their meaningful involvement in relevant initiatives.

Preparedness: to identify, prevent and prepare for potential health threats and coordinate a swift and efficient EU response together with international partners to health emergencies.

Continued investment and strong leadership in health at EU level is indispensable. The future governance of the EU Commission and its programmes must demonstrate commitment to independence, through a top-level entity with adequate resources for health protection and promotion.


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