On 9 February, the CoR’s Interregional Group on Health and Well-being held its constitutive meeting. This meeting explored which topics will be discussed throughout 2021. The CoR members emphasized that the European Commission has worked hard to lay the groundwork for a European Union which will better protect the health of its citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that the collaboration between the EU Member States and local authorities remain a crucial point to achieve this goal.

That is why members of the Interregional Group agreed on the following priorities, which are in line with the IRGHW Work Programme for 2020-2025. The topics at the top of the agenda are two proposals by the European Commission, which represent initiatives in building the European Health Union, strengthening the new European Centre for Disease and Control (ECDC) mandate, and the Pharmaceutical StrategyThe European Committee of the Regions will be called to present opinions on the Proposals during the May plenary session. The NAT Commission furthermore discusses the content of two working documents on these subjects, namely: “Europe’s pharmaceutical strategy and legislative proposal for changing the mandate of the European Medical Agency (EMA)” (Rapporteur: Birgitta Sacrédeus) and “Regulation for tackling cross-border health threats and legislative proposal for changing the mandate of the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC)” (Rapporteur: Olgierd Geblewicz).

For this reason, the members agreed to focus on these two issues during the first meeting of the Interregional Group, which is scheduled for 2 March. Among the other issues raised, the members focused on the principle of subsidiarity in the European Health Union and on Europe’s fight against cancer. The members furthermore paid attention to healthcare for the elderly (one of the most vulnerable social groups during the current pandemic), health inequalities, and public health. Among these subjects, defined by Ms Birgitta Sacrédeus, Chair of the Interregional Group, as “post corona” topics, the topic of mental health is another topic which should be addressed in the near future.

These topics will be discussed during the upcoming meetings of the Interregional Group on Health and Well-being. In addition to the meeting on 2 March, three other gatherings will be held. These meetings will be organized (most likely) in July, one during the European Week of Regions and Cities (11-14 October), and another presumably in November/December.