09 Apr 2014
European Commissioner for Health We still take pride in the fact that Europe has one of the best food safety systems in the world.
The European Health Insurance Card is a big security for me because if something happens, I always think that I have all the possibilities, nobody will deny me treatment in any hospital or public health centre. That's why I have it and I recommend all Europeans to get one!
20 million Europeans
treated in another Member State
One of the most important concerns for people is their health. But out of all of its portfolios, the EU really has its hands tied when it comes to healthcare because it's considered such a national competence. According to the Lisbon Treaty the EU has no legal framework to adopt a general European law in the field of healthcare. Member States are responsible for the organisation, management, financing and delivery of their own healthcare. So what role can and has the EU played to improve public health in Europe?
Gemma off Its 2008-2013 health programme aimed to provide a benchmark for common healthcare standards across the Union and narrow the gap between different practices in the Member States, through closer cooperation and a better exchange of experiences, information and knowledge.
Gemma off A comprehensive health information system is being developed to provide EU-wide access to reliable and up-to-date information on health-related topics. In particular, the European Parliament has been working on improving the diagnosis of rare diseases and has put in place a system where a specialist in another country can use his or hers expertise to help confirm the diagnosis and allow the patient to be treated by that expert in another Member State.
Gemma on To give his thoughts on the EU's role in healthcare is Dr Bertollini, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organisation and its representative to the EU. Dr Bertollini, what for you has been the EU's greatest achievement in health in the last five years?
Dr Roberto Bertollini
Chief Scientist and WHO Representative to the European Union
I think one of the most important achievements is the approval of the cross-border health directive, which is actually making a big difference in the way in which the countries are handling the emergencies, which might arise because of the introduction of new viruses in the European area, because of the purchase of vaccines and medicaments and the coordination among the countries, the emergency committee. So it's something which builds up a sort of, more coordinated mechanism among the Member States on a specific issue.
Gemma off Indeed, thanks to EU legislation, if you are travelling in another EU country, you can obtain medical treatment easily. With the European Health Insurance Card, you are entitled to receive the same treatment, at the same price as any other insured local from that country. And you can be reimbursed when you get home.
Gemma off The Cross-Border Health Directive was updated in 2011, under the careful guidance of EPP Group Member Françoise Grossetête. Now, access to healthcare abroad is not just limited to emergency treatment.
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