Bratislava, January 23 (TASR) – It is worth considering whether the European Union should have more influence on individual member states when it comes to health matters, health analyst Martin Smatana has stated in a discussion on TASR TV, adding that the coronavirus pandemic has revealed the need for better coordination of the management of health crises in Europe.
Addressing the future direction of the EU, Smatana expressed his opinion on completing a European Health Union (EHU), whose aim should be to deliver better and more effective responses to future health threats. The future of the health-care system in Europe is among the topics discussed at the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE).
“The completion of the EHU is an extremely sensitive topic because the majority of EU-member states have opposed it for years. I was among those who were glad that we (in healthcare) have been somewhat autonomous. However, I have reconsidered my opinion and now I think that we need the European Commission (EC) to have more influence on healthcare,” Smatana said.
The analyst noted in this regard that the EU has no direct powers in the area of healthcare but it’s done its utmost in the fight against the pandemic despite this.
“Both the the European Medicines Agency [EMA] and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control [ECDC] have their job very well. If there was no EMA, I cannot imagine what vaccines we’d use today … The ECDC provided the oversight of all measures, did the reviews, the concepts and the studies, from which the Slovak council of experts also drew information. This means that the EU, within the limits of what it was legislatively able to do, has fulfilled its role the best it could,” Smatana said, adding that in his view “it’s a pity that the European Union hasn’t had an even greater impact on some member states”.
The analyst predicted that Europe will probably experience a “large wave” of diseases of civilisation, such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer, for instance, when the coronavirus pandemic ends. The aim of the EHU, he said, should be to set up processes in the health systems of individual member states so that the level of care is as standardised as possible.