Today, the European Commission published an opinion by the Independent Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in health on European solidarity in public health emergencies.
The recommendations in the opinion call to broaden EU competencies and joint efforts and to renew the dialogue with low and middle income countries in the field of health. The Panel advocates for more investment in primary health care integrated with public health, social care and mental health support systems. In further recommendations, the Panel calls for improved EU-level coordination to respond to surges in health care demand, transparent and accountable governance of public and private sector data, strengthened crisis preparedness, monitoring the interplay between trust and solidarity and the inclusion of solidarity as a guiding principle in EU regulations and actions.
The opinion explores the concept of solidarity from both theoretical and implementation perspectives with a focus on health emergencies. It critically examines relevant implemented and proposed actions of solidarity towards EU Member States and towards countries outside the EU borders. The opinion addresses solidarity in relation to response and preparedness, cross-border collaboration and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. It identifies limitations to EU level actions and suggests ways to overcome them. Recognising the tremendous effort of EU bodies, Member States and EU citizens to manage the challenges posed by COVID-19, this opinion advocates for an EU-wide transformation in health cooperation mechanisms in order to effectively operationalise solidarity both at EU and global level.
EU treaties explicitly refer to solidarity in several provisions, including the values and objectives of the European Union, but European transnational solidarity in health emergency situations is still a concept requiring further development. Building on the positive examples of how the EU and Member States demonstrated solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic and the proposals for the European Health Union, the European Commission requested the Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in health (EXPH) to discuss how to strengthen and implement EU solidarity actions in public health emergencies. The published opinion follows stakeholder discussions during a public hearing on 16 September.
The Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in health is an interdisciplinary and independent group established by the European Commission to provide non-binding independent advice on matters related to effective, accessible and resilient health systems.