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 EESC welcomes the proposed regulatory initiative, which will have an indirect positive impact as it simplifies and speeds up cross-border judicial procedures and cooperation, and will also contribute to improving the functioning of the single market. It is worth noting that e-CODEX is not limited to e-justice. In anticipation of the future, the EESC recommends including a provision to open up the possibility of other uses by other public administrations, including for example the transfer of e-health records.
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 Digital Markets Act addresses the negative consequences arising from certain behaviours by platforms acting as digital “gatekeepers” to the single market.
This proposal is the first of a set of measures announced in the 2020 European strategy for data.
In its opinion, the EESC calls for physical and digital completion of the internal market to be on an equal footing and for a high level of consumer protection to be achieved. It calls for greater durability of goods, access to sustainable products, a clean, circular, more climate-friendly economy and efficient use of products, as well as combating of planned obsolescence and the right to repair goods and products.