Brussels, important legislator for the healthcare sector
Europe seems far away and without formal competence on health issues. In practice, European legislation has a direct impact on the sector.
The EU has the power to ensure the free movement of goods and fair competition in the pharmaceutical sector. The Court considers the provision of health care as a service and stated that the European rules on the freedom to provide services are applicable. Court judgments now make it possible to directly go abroad for medical care. In the field of consumer protection, Europe has jurisdiction. Scandals and abuses, such as PIP breast implants, the BSE crisis and physicians with disqualifications which continue to provide health care services in another Member State have led to European legislation.
The recommendations in the framework of the ‘European semester’ (the coordination of economic policies) are also a concern for the healthcare sector. This exercise identifies temporary imbalances in the economy and problems with public finances. By way of example, the Netherlands already received a recommendation from Brussels in 2013 to take steps to reform its long-term care.
Europe is at the negotiating table for a far-reaching trade agreement called TTIP, the trans-Atlantic trade and investment pact. Deregulation can have a big impact on the healthcare sector. Inequalities in the access to healthcare may become worse through these agreements.
In addition to binding legislation, Europe also makes ‘soft law’ on HIV / AIDS, blood, tissue and organs, tobacco, alcohol, obesity, mental healthcare, cancer, E-health, screening, healthy aging, medical devices and genetics.
This stream of European legislation affects, directly or indirectly, primary care, long term care, the nursing homes, mental healthcare and care for the disabled. For example, the modernization of the Directive regarding the recognition of professional qualifications, particularly for nurses, midwives and pharmacists are highly relevant to the health care sector. Hospitals may have to deal with the revision of legislation on medical devices and e-health. It is for the abovementioned that many European stakeholders have organized themselves in Brussels. Doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, patients, hospitals, health insurers and managers in health care: they all have an lobbyist in the European capital.
For the entire healthsector there are many opportunities and challenges in Brussels. So, become aware of the European policy agenda, judge it on its meaning for your own organization and translate it into effective action (lobbying) to the European policy makers.
Because: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu”