The EU Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides has announced plans for a European Health Union, an idea which was proposed by Ambassador Giovanni Brauzzi to help EU member states better prepare for future pandemics and learn the lessons of COVID-19 on 9 May, Europe Day, 2020.
In a statement following the announcement, Roger Casale, founder and CEO of New Europeans said:
"We are very encouraged by the announcement today by Commissioner Stella Kyriakides of a European Health Union following our call for such a union on 9 May 2020, Europe Day, when we called for a truly European response based on human solidarity and enlightened self-interest.
The Commission has clearly listened to the voice of citizens as well as experts and has taken on board many of our detailed recommendations including for the setting up of a European Health Union.
The key now is to engage the public in the reconfiguration of healthcare in Europe.
Above all we need to recognize that to prepare for future pandemics, we also need change in other policy areas, not least with respect to education, citizenship, subsidiarity and foreign relations.
The kind of transformative change that is needed to how we live our lives and how we organize ourselves in society cannot be brought about without the consent and the ideas of citizens.
That is why an all-encompassing, participatory and inclusive approach is needed as called for by our the policy call we set out on Europe Day.
We hope that the EU will commit to this in taking forward its plans for a European Health Union."
Suzana Carp, an environmental expert and climate change activist and fellow board member of New Europeans commented:
"The Health Union announcement comes less than 24 hours after the agreement that the EU's next 7 year budget will incorporate own resources, mostly generated by taxing pollution, effectively lays the foundation for a Health Union that seeks to promote access to better healthcare and to a cleaner environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the EUGreenDeal agenda are creating an intrinsic link between the EU's Health Union and our green ambitions (and of course, the latter could end up financing the first).
A European Health Union must therefore prioritize, in a first instance, overcoming the huge inequality in healthcare abilities between Member States but also the huge differences in the access to a clean environment in regions all across the EU. "
In an article for ISPI (Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale) on 23 October, Ambassador Giovanni Brauzzi repeated his call for a European Health Union.
"The COVID-19-19 pandemic has changed everything. Also in Europe.
Before this nightmare ends (and, unfortunately, we are not there yet!) we have to build on the lessons learnt and create something new and positive out of this this dramatic experience.
This was the message of the call for a European Health Union that we launched on May 9th – 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration - with the "New Europeans" group of the former labourist Roger Casale.
We are pleased that the idea has been brought up by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen in her Speech on the State of the Union on September 16th, also in light of the World Health Summit which will be organized in 2021 by the Italian Presidency of the G20.
Also, while Member States are struggling to cope with the second wave of infection, it is reassuring to see that at least the European Commission is developing a coordinated strategy to ensure the best effectiveness of future vaccines. Only united and determined we will overcome this tragedy.
Read the full IPSE article by Ambassador Giovanni Brauzzi here.