The Health team at the Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany to the EU is responsible for EU health policy, which is regulated in Article 168 TFEU. Para 1 states:
A high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities.
The goal of guaranteeing a high level of human health protection needs to be followed in all EU legislative acts and policies (“health in all policies”, i.e. horizontal approach)
The EU has passed directives according to Art. 168 (4) TFEU on the quality and safety of
- Medical products
- Organs and substances of human origin, blood and blood derivatives
In general, EU competences are limited though to coordination and support of national member states’ health policies – without harmonizing health policy in Europe.
Areas of cooperation and support encompass:
- Measures to support the protection and improvement of human health
- Measures to monitor and identify severe and cross border health threats early on
- Measures to limit drug-related health threats
- Measures that intend to directly protect the population from tobacco consumption and alcohol misuse
Legislative proposals of the Commission (DG Sante) are discussed in the Council Working Groups on “Public Health”, as well as “Pharmaceuticals and medical devices”, passed on to COREPER 1 and finally decided by the EPSCO Council, at a meeting of the health ministers.
In the European Parliament EU health policies are debated in the ENVI Committee.
Current health topics are:
- Personalized medicine
- Health Technology Assessment
- Rare diseases and European Reference Networks (ERN)
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMF), HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis
- Mental health
- Health security and pandemic preparedness planning
- Helth preofessionals and health workfore in the EU
- Alcohol and drug policy
- healthy aging and longterm care
- chronical and non-communicable diseases
- International cooperation, especially within WHO
- health topics within international trade agreements
Ortwin Schulte is head of Division for Health Policy, Public Health, Health Care Systems, and Health Care Provision