In a debate with Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas at its September plenary session, the EESC urged the Commission to be ambitious in implementing the new European care strategy. The EESC put the focus on health workers and their skills, education and working conditions and singled out the building of trust as a prerequisite for the success of the European Health Data Space.

At its plenary session on 22 September, the EESC held a debate on EU health policy initiatives with European Commission Vice President and Commissioner for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas.
EESC president Christa Schweng said, "The EESC supports all EU initiatives to create a European Health Union and to increase resilience and preparedness for any future threats."

"We are determined to show that health is not just a policy, it is who we are; this is part of the model of open society we stand for, of our European way of life," Mr Schinas stressed.

As the EU institution that was the first to call for the creation of a European Health Union, the EESC has adopted opinions on two of the recent Commission initiatives on health, which aim to ensure that each and every European has access to affordable and high-quality healthcare.

In the opinion on the European Health Data Space (EHDS), the EESC praised the EHDS proposal as an excellent opportunity to empower individuals to access and control their personal health data. It lent its support to a large-scale public communication campaign to help people understand the benefits of the sharing process and to have trust and confidence in the system.

"Trust will be crucial. Citizens need to be comfortable with the use of their data, both in terms of improving public services and of the possible use of these data to combat diseases and develop innovative solutions by researchers," said the rapporteur for the opinion, Gonçalo Lobo Xavier.

The EESC also adopted an opinion on the Health Workforce and Care Strategy, in which it called for an ambitious people-centred care strategy that can improve healthcare and long-term care across the EU, ensuring equal quality standards in all Member States or among regions within each country. It proposed a European care guarantee to ensure that everyone living in the EU has access to affordable care services.

"The care system is a litmus test for our European way of life, which needs to be socially just and inclusive," said the rapporteur for the opinion, Zoe Tzotze-Lanara.

Danko Relić, co-rapporteur for the opinion, emphasised the need for an educated, skilled and motivated healthcare workforce. "Health workers must have good working conditions. They must be adequately paid and have decent working hours, enjoy a good work-life balance and have guarantees for their health and safety at work!", Mr Relić stressed. (ll)