An important item on the agenda of today's plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg is the wider implementation of the European Health Union, including a substantial extension of the EU's competence in the prevention and control of communicable diseases and the management of cross-border health risks. I have no doubt that in today's debate and tomorrow’s vote, the majority of the EP will be in favour, which means that further steps in the health reform package can be completed.
However, as one of the initiators and partial developers of the European Health Union programme, I consider it slow and insufficient that the European institutions are not exerting sufficient pressure on the Member States to minimize the differences in the quality of national public health care systems. The European Parliament has already voted in a number of resolutions on the concept of the Health Union, stating that stress tests should be carried out on Member States; care systems to identify their „white spots”; and that, after evaluating this data, a quality framework should be established which would finally guarantee adequate quality of basic healthcare in all Member States throughout the EU.
Some EU governments, including the Fidesz government, will see it as an intrusion into national sovereignty if they are obliged by EU standards to guarantee their citizens high-quality healthcare. Interestingly, while the government is opposed to the proposal to implement the criteria, Fidesz MEPs have previously voted in favour of all the parliamentary resolutions on the issue.
In my written contribution to today’s debate in Strasbourg, I strongly urged us to put pressure on Member States to fully implement the European Health Union. They must not be allowed to hide behind populist rhetoric in order to escape having to give long-term guarantees for safe and quality healthcare.
István Ujhelyi MEP
Member of the ENVI Committee
Strasbourg/Budapest – 03/10/2022