The EESC believes that evidence based processes like Health Technology Assessment (HTA) that is a key driver for socio-economic growth and innovation in the Union can be achieved through cooperation between Member States at Union level aiming at a high protection of health for patients and ensuring the smooth functioning of an inclusive Single Market. It is concerned about the set timelines of implementation and especially the delayed application of three years and believes that for the benefit of the patients and cost-effectiveness this could be shortened. In order to achieve the promise of digital health and care, of which HTA is part, the involvement of civil society is crucial.
The opinion, presenting EESC's position on the four proposals of the Health package published by the European Commission in November 2020, supports and welcomes these initiatives but draws the attention on some elements.
- The EU and Member States should ensure that everyone has equal access to quality, well staffed, well equipped health and social services. This is particularly important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which has deepened existing inequalities.
- Special attention in future EU policies should be given to healthcare workers and the need to improve working conditions, including pay, recruitment and retention, as well as their health and safety.
- The new EU health package should be combined with the roll-out of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), particularly its principles 12, 16, 17 and 18 and the Action Plan on the EPSR. It should also be part of achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.
The revamped Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) is a tool through which the EU supports, coordinates and supplements actions of EU Member States in the field of civil protection in order to prevent, prepare and respond to natural and man-made disasters within and outside the EU. The new proposal aims to strengthen the UCPM to ensure that the EU and its Member States are better prepared to respond to large-scale emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EESC strongly supports the Commission's proposal – Next Generation EU – as a specific tool for a quick and effective recovery.
The EESC takes a very positive view of the Commission's two main decisions:
- to introduce an extraordinary financial recovery instrument as part of the multiannual financial framework
- to raise common debt, which will be repaid over a long period of time, and prevent the extraordinary financial burden from falling directly on the Member States in the short run.
The EESC strongly welcomes the fact that the newly proposed instrument should be closely coordinated with the European Semester process, and furthermore welcomes the Commission's proposal to introduce additional genuine own resources based on different taxes (revenues from the EU Emissions Trading System, digital taxation, large companies' revenues).
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak constitutes a grave emergency and represents a situation unprecedented since the end of the Second World War. Especially for the most deprived, the crisis risks disrupting the support provided by the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD).
The own-initiative opinion presents the EESC’s views on the gaps in the current system and indicates potential measures for a European wide push for digital up-skilling of health and care workers, and also for policies that prevent further digital divides by addressing skill gaps in the population at large. This own-initiative opinion is in part a follow-up to the own-initiative opinion entitled "Towards digital health".