#EAPM – To agree, or not to agree. That is the question…in health care

| July 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Health Correspondent

Greetings all, and it’s been a fun-packed few days, as ever, writes European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Executive Director Denis Horgan.

What with US President Donald Trump struggling with the history of aviation, and a UK ambassador’s comments about the White House administration all at the same time, would-be British Prime Minister Boris Johnson being taught a lesson on WTO rules by none other than the head of the organization, a new Greek Prime Minister, and a Parliamentary hue and cry about the Spitzenkandidaten process – or lack of it –  who knows where to start this update?

OK, we’ll talk about the European Parliament and the fact that many feel it’s going to be tough to get legislation agreed during the coming five-year term, due to the spread of parties and, more to the point, the numbers.

The European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) saw a fall in their combined delegations to 336 from 403 after the May elections. This isshort of a majority in the hemicycle.

The liberal Renew Europe group, which joins what was ALDE, has an improved 108 seats, while the Greens have gained 23 seats on the previous Parliament.

It now looks as though these four main pro-EU parties may struggle to agree on key issues going forward, which means that passing laws could prove a little difficult.

French Green MEP David Cormand said in Strasburg last week: “The duopoly between the socialists and conservatives is over…This is an opportunity for us. Before, they were co-managing the Parliament, now, we will be able to politicise the institution.�

And German EPP MEP Andreas Schwab said: “This Parliament will be dominated by the question of whether achieving a stable majority is possible.�

The ongoing big-party negotiations are designed to ensure that all pro-European groups have a common platform on the major issues, while letting the incoming Commission know the Parliament’s priorities.

From the point of view of EAPM, the fact that there may be different approaches from the main political groups will help to refine discussions, not least in the arena of healthcare.

Through the STEPs Group of MEPs and general Parliamentary business, deputies have an opportunity to prioritise what their voters want them to prioritise. Not least among these is healthcare, and the legislature needs to work together toensure that, for example, health innovation becomes the servant of the EU citizenry.

Disruptive innovation is all the rage, especially in personalised medicine and healthcare generally, so maybe we could do with some disruptive politics to shake up and refine how healthcare is delivered?

All will be well

At least we can rest assured that the newly installed Finnish EU Presidency will be doing its bit for the well-being of citizens during its six-months in the chair. And as ever, during that time and beyond, EAPM will engage will all institutions and member states to ensure that one of our own priorities – health-care policy – moves in the right direction.

As for the Finns, at last month‘s Health Council gathering in Luxembourg, the country’s health minister,Krista Kiuru told listeners that the economy of wellbeing will be the overarching theme for the Presidency, adding that Finland will also work to “strengthen the influence of the EU as a leader in global health, promoting our European values and protecting multilateralismâ€�.

Helsinki plans to launch a long-term project that will last for six consecutive Council presidencies.

(On a side note, Finland has no plans to complete the health technology assessment file during its presidency, according to Ulla Närhithe Finnish Permanent Representation’s pharmaceutical counsellor. Instead, Finland will spend its time focusing on Articles 3 to 9 of the HTA proposal, which include the controversial questionofwhether the uptake of HTA should be mandatory.)

Back under the general umbrella of well-being, a Council note talks about “major challengesâ€�and “opportunitiesâ€�on Europe’s horizon, and aneed to “promote our European social model empowering all peopleâ€�. It is our comparative advantage in tightening global competition.

“The EU should aim to bethe most competitive and socially cohesive economy in the world,â€� it says.

The Finnish Presidency wants to continue and deepen the discussion launched by the European Pillar on Social Rights and intends to hold in-depth reflections on the Economy of Wellbeing, and the mutually reinforcing interlinkages between human wellbeing and sustainable economic growth.”

The Council note goes on to explain that human wellbeing and sustainable economic growth are not contradictory goals. The OECD has undertaken extensive research on the topic, which reveals that human wellbeing and sustainable economic growth are mutually reinforcing.Â

It adds that the promotion of wellbeing as well as the prevention of diseases and social exclusion are of major importance from the human perspective, but they are also key aspects in reducing future public expenditure, increasing productivity and extending working life.

“While human wellbeing is a value in itself, it is also vital for the economy. This is the primary claim of the Economy of Wellbeing.�

It says that the EU affects the wellbeing of its people in various ways. It affects it through legislation in other policy sectors, through the European Semester, which involves economic, employment, social and health policies, and through the promotion and exchange of best practices, adding that “if the EU is not seen to increase wellbeing of its people it will lose public support�.

Amen to that.

What has been agreed, then?

During the discussions mentioned above between the four Parliamentary groups, action against antimicrobial resistance and cancer lead the health priorities under negotiation.

Politico reported on a draft document in which five points are listed under the headline of Protection of human health’.

These refer to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), cancer,the elimination of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and tuberculosis, plus the digitalization of health care and endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

The four groups say they want responsible use of antibiotics in humans, and “sustainable, needs-driven incentives for the development of new antibiotics for humans�.

MEPs want to see a cancer action plan that includes prevention, targeting the main causes of cancer, promoting research and ensuring a good application of patient rights through cross-border health care as well as access to medicines.

The four parties also want solidproposals to enhance interoperability within and between healthcare systems, “with a particular attention on improving equal access to services�.

Building the Berlaymont Castle…

Proposals for new Commissioners have already been put forward by a couple of member states, with Estonia proposing Kadri Simson as its new EU commissioner.

Prime Minster Jüri Ratas says the former economics minster is “a dedicated European�, adding: “I am convinced she will be a hard-working and very professional member of the European Commission.�

Meanwhile, Romania has nominated an interim commissioner to serve for the remaining four months of this term only. Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă informed Commission and Council that they proposed Ioan Mircea Pașcu “for the remaining time-frame of the current institutional mandate�.

For all practical purposes the two nominees will now need to pass an interview with soon-to-depart Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, who has to confirm the candidates’“general competence and European commitment� before being vetted in Parliament.

And speaking of parliamentary vetting, Ursula von der Leyen, the surprise choice of the EU’s heads of state and government to replace Juncker, will need 376 votes of approval in Strasbourg on Tuesday(16 July).

Which rather neatly brings us to the fact that she’ll need three of those big four parliamentary groups to actual agree on this topic, at least. (The EPP, S&D and Renew Europe.)

So, it seems that a first test of parliamentary unity or otherwise awaits just around the corner…

Source:: EU Reporter Feed

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