The European Commission is building a strong European Health Union, in which all EU countries prepare and respond together to health crises, medical supplies are available, affordable and innovative, and countries work together to improve prevention, treatment and aftercare for diseases such as cancer. The European Health Union will

  • better protect the health of our citizens
  • equip the EU and its Member States to better prevent and address future pandemics
  • improve resilience of Europe’s health systems 

Lessons from the coronavirus pandemic

The pandemic shows the importance of coordination among European countries to protect people’s health, both during a crisis and in normal times when we can tackle underlying health conditions, invest in strong health systems and train the healthcare workforce. The European Health Union will improve EU-level protection, prevention, preparedness and response against human health hazards.

Key initiatives

In its first proposal on a European Health Union, the Commission focused on crisis preparedness and response measures such as:

EU Health workers
  • strengthening coordination at EU-level when facing cross-border health threats
  • revising the mandates of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and of the European Medicines Agency to provide stronger surveillance, scientific analysis and guidance before and during a crisis

The Commission launched  a new European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) for health emergencies to develop, produce and procure medical countermeasures before and during a health crisis. HERA aims to:

  • improve EU health security coordination before and during crises
  • bring together the EU Member States, industry and relevant stakeholders
  • develop, produce, procure, stockpile and equitably distribute medical countermeasures
  • reinforce the global health emergency response architecture

The pharmaceutical strategy aims to modernise the regulatory framework and support research and technologies that reach patients. It rests on four pillars:

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  • Fulfilling unmet medical needs
  • Supporting a competitive and innovative European pharmaceutical industry
  • Enhancing resilience through diversified supply chains, environmental sustainability, and crisis preparedness
  • Promoting high standards for medical products globally

Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan aims to prevent cancer and ensure that cancer patients, survivors, their families and carers can enjoy a high quality of life. By tapping into a broad array of EU policies, notably digitalisation, research and innovation, the cancer plan helps EU countries turn the tide against cancer. It includes actions and flagship initiatives covering the entire disease pathway:

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  • prevention
  • early detection
  • diagnosis and treatment
  • quality of life for cancer patients and survivors

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