On Thursday 26 November, the European Committee of the Region’s Interregional Group on Health and Wellbeing met to discuss how its members can help to shape the future of EU health policies and ensure better health in all regions.

On this occasion, CoR Rapporteurs from the opinions “EU4Health”, “an EU Health Emergency Mechanism”, “Cross-border healthcare” and “Lessons learned because of the COVID-19 Pandemic” guided the audience through the main findings of their opinions. The Rapporteurs for “the European Health Union” and “Cross-border health threats”, who were appointed only a few days ahead of the meeting, joined the information exchange and discussed their first points of feedback. Mr Batey, EUREGHA Chair, acted as moderator during the event.

Mr Lété (Political Advisor of PES) started the meeting on behalf of Mrs Sarrabezolles (PES/FR), who is the Rapporteur of the “EU4Health Opinion”. He underlined that the opinion aims to reduce health inequalities while improving coordination on a EU level, contributing to the resilience of health systems in the long-term, focusing on prevention, and reinforcing the role of the regional and local authorities. He made it clear that regions are located closest to the citizens and therefore have a far-reaching role to play to define problems and put sustainable solutions in place.

According to Mrs Sacrédeus (EPP, SE), chair of the Interregional Group on Health and Wellbeing and Rapporteur for the opinion on the “EU Health Emergency Mechanism”, the pandemic forced us to come up with a robust response to the virus. This approach underlined the importance of cooperation and solidarity. Mr Uno Petersen (PES, DK), The Rapporteur for the “Cross-border healthcare” opinion, pointed out that it is crucial to make a distinction between healthcare before, after, and during a crisis and that some things must be managed on a national or a regional level. He focused on cross-border cooperation which takes into account the actual differences between regions and the Member States.

Mrs Schauvliege (EPP/BE), Rapporteur of the Opinion “Lessons learned because of the COVID-19 pandemic”, mentioned that early research showed us that there is a need for a coordinated and consolidated EU response to the crisis instead of relying on national responses only. The new opinion intends to involve all sorts of stakeholders and will provide a picture of the reality on the ground and will offer both the EU institutions and national entities feedback on how to manage future pandemics.

Mr Geblewicz (EPP/PL), President of the EPP Group, who has been appointed as Rapporteur for the opinion on “Cross-border health threats” applauded the new plans for the European Health Union which is lifting health to the top of the political agenda. To realize these ambitious plans, existing (funding) tools and regulations must be amended to ensure consistency with other instruments. To be more successful in managing future health threats, we must also further develop the powers of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), according to Mr Geblewicz.

Mr Ciambetti (IT/ECR), Rapporteur for the new “European Health Union” stressed the significant role of regional and local health authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic and said that the EU Health Union should be strong and resilient. To succeed, we must share information and best practices to enable us to rule out and tackle future health crises.

Throughout the meeting, CoR Members and external stakeholders were able to ask questions and exchange their ideas. We are looking forward to continuing the discussion during the upcoming months. Please visit this page if you wish to know more about the Interregional Group on Health and Wellbeing and do not hesitate to contact the EUREGHA secretariat if you want to receive more information.