The event was the first gathering of the thematic network “Healthcare in Cross-border Regions”.

The Thematic networks are collaborative networks that bring together different stakeholder organisations to produce joint statements on health-related developments. The networks are hosted on the EU health policy platform and supported by DG SANTE.
The “Healthcare in cross-border regions” thematic network, led by EUREGHA and Healthacross initiative” (Lower Austria Region), aims to support the European Commission in its exercise of mapping building cross-border and regional cooperation in healthcare through the identification of crucial challenges and successful existing experiences to be scaled up.

13 March: Conference

Dr. Martin Eichtinger, Minister of the provincial government of Lower Austria, opened the conference explaining the importance of cross-border policies for a region like Lower Austria. Since the establishment of the Healthacross initiative eleven years ago, Lower Austria has been cooperating intensively with the health sectors in the Czech and Slovak regions.

Mr. Eichtinger’s remarks were followed by Nick Batey’s speech. The Chair of EUREGHA pointed out the importance of networks such as EUREGHA for building relationships, links and connections to address common global challenges, particularly in terms of health inequalities. Mr. Batey highlighted that, thanks to this Thematic Network, we will hear and learn from a variety of experiences and leave with a much stronger community of practitioners and professionals who are working towards a common set of goals to further improve cooperation across Europe.

Balazs Lengyel, Legal Officer in the DG SANTE, presented the EU legislation regarding Healthcare in cross-border regions by mentioning article 168 of the treaty, the “Directive on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare” (2011/24/EU) and the “Coordination of social security systems” (Regulation (EC) 883/2004). Mr. Lengyel continued describing other funding mechanisms and tools to help cross-border cooperation.

Valeria Cenacchi, Desk Officer for European Cross-Border Cooperation programmes in the DG REGIO, focused on the ongoing initiatives around the EU to promote the Healthcare in cross-border regions. Some examples include the EU Health Policy Platform, the Border Focal Point, the b-solutions project and the Regiostars awards.  Ms. Cenacchi also outlined the European cross-border mechanism, a new legal tool that will help overcome some of the administrative and legal obstacles in border areas.


The second part of the event consisted of a panel discussion including an interactive session with the audience.

Valentina Polylas, EUREGHA’s Operations Manager, explained the functioning of the EUHPP Thematic Network and presented the Thematic Network on “Healthcare in cross-border Regions”. Ms. Polylas illustrated the characteristics of the joint statement that will be produced and stressed the crucial role of the EU Health Policy Platform to share information and support the production of this document. She also presented the timeline of this process.

Francesc Bonet, Director of the Hospital La Cerdanya presented the story of his hospital, the only bi-national cross-border hospital in the EU, including Innovation in models of healthcare. Mr. Bonet explained that as a cross-border hospital, La Cerdanya faced administrative issues such as different models of the healthcare system and different levels of administrative decentralisation and described the solutions to those problems.

Julia Winkler from the Healthacross initiative addressed the management of projects, describing Healthacross’ experience. Ms. Winkler explained what makes their projects successful and sustainable as well as the steps that are crucial for the success of a project, the main challenges and the facilitating factors.

Brigitte van der Zanden, Director of EU Prevent described the EU Prevent work on data collection regarding the Euregion Meuse-Rhine (EMR). She explained how the collection of data is not a goal itself, but is strongly needed for cross-border cooperation. EU Prevent is now working on a Platform of Euregional health data where the data is shown on a regional level and where it is possible to analyse trends.


14-15 March: Study-visits

On the 14th of March, all the stakeholders visited the Hospital of Melk and learned more about the two projects, “Unlimited Health Together” and “Bridges for Birth”. Those projects are both in the field of cross-border hospital cooperation. The first one is a collaboration among Lower Austria (AU), South Bohemia (CZ), and South Moravia (CZ) and focusses on cooperation in radiotherapy, gynaecology and emergency cooperation. The Bridges for Birth project, that Lower Austria is carrying on with Slovakia, is focused on neonatology and rescue services for neonatal emergencies.

On the 15th of March, all the stakeholders visited the Hospital of Gmünd and heard about the “Healthacross for future” project. The project in which Lower Austria cooperates with South Bohemia (CZ) and South Moravia (CZ), focusses on two main pillars, cross-border health care provision and cross-border health cube. The main objectives are to ensure inpatient cross-border healthcare and expand it to inpatient care for CZ patients and to prepare a “Cross-border health centre” for the border region.