The EU must take action as regards the medical technology sector

The European institutions must spearhead the optimising of Europe's medical technology industry, as its performance is currently plagued by excessive fragmentation and growing competition pressures, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) said at its plenary session on 14 February.

In its opinion on "Industrial change in the health sector", the EESC warned that competitors are already at Europe's doorstep. Trade negotiations must therefore secure up-to-date European production in providing universal health care. 

"It is the EU's responsibility to streamline the medical technology sector, bundle initiatives inside the countries and regions and make it world-fit. Europe's governments, insurance companies, regulators, patient and medical staff representatives, and the industry must come together to cooperate and develop a common strategy," said rapporteur Joost van Iersel.

"Also, the human factor is paramount", added co-rapporteur Enrico Gibellieri. "The transition to a new health and care sector requires an open mind, new forms of professionalism and a redesign of health and care related work. The European social dialogue in health and social services should be reinforced, with a focus on education and training programmes and the quality of working conditions."

While the medical technology sector is a buoyant sector and still in a leading position, the challenges the industry is currently facing - including unfair trade practices and high fragmentation -  must be tackled now in order to quickly adapt to an ever-changing environment. (sma)