Rede des EU-Kommissärs, letzter Teil.

Speech of EU-Commissionar for Health and Consumer Protection, Markos Kyprianou, on Jan. 20, 2005:

The new European Healthcare Agenda (Last part)    Full text of speech

Yet it is clear that it is not health which is a cost, but rather sickness. Figures estimating the costs of some largely avoidable diseases in Europe speak for themselves. The annual financial burden of lung disease is over one hundred billion Euros a year; and cardiovascular disease costs even more.

If the costs of ill health are so high, improving the population's health must become an economic priority.

And this becomes even more important as we consider the impact of demographic ageing. The key tool to reducing the financial impact of demographic ageing is enabling older people to live healthy and active lives as long as possible. That requires investment in prevention, and in adapting health services so that they meet the needs of older people.

Our current health services focus on curing specific conditions. Our future health services must focus more on people than diseases.

The ‘open method of coordination’ for healthcare and long-term care proposed by the Commission provides a framework for Member States to exchange experience and to compare policies and performance in this area.

It provides a tool to support reforms and policy development within national health systems in order to adapt to the challenges that all health systems face, and to draw on best practice throughout the Union.

So these are the two strands to our future agenda for healthcare priorities: cooperation at European level to help health systems work together, and support to reform and investment by Member States themselves to adapt to current and future challenges.

This marks a major change from the situation only a few years ago. For too long we have neglected the health dimension of European integration. But it is clear that this is no longer the case.

The Constitutional Treaty includes political reinforcement of the importance of health. It includes promoting “the well-being of its peoples” as one of the three fundamental aims of the Union. The treaty also includes rights to health care and protection of health among the fundamental rights of European citizens.

The revised health article includes provisions for strengthened cooperation between Member States on health issues, supported by the Commission.

This strengthened cooperation would be similar to the “open method of coordination”, but with a sole focus of improving health.
From all this, it is clear that the European dimension of health is maturing rapidly.

Of course, none of this puts into question the primary responsibility of the Member States for health in general and for health systems in particular. But it makes clear the expectations that now exist for the Union to support Member States in this endeavour. I intend to make sure that we play our part in ensuring high levels of health for all Europeans.

Thank you.

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