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Brussels, 26 September 2006

Patient mobility: Commission launches public consultation regarding EU action on health services

The European Commission today launches a public consultation on how to ensure legal certainty regarding cross-border healthcare under Community law, and to support cooperation between the health systems of the Member States. Responses are sought by 31 January 2007. The Commission then plans to bring forward proposals later in 2007.

“This is an opportunity to shape the future of healthcare in Europe,” said Commissioner Kyprianou. “Community law provides patients with rights to cross-border care under Community law, but we need a clear, practical framework to reconcile greater individual choice with the sustainability of health systems overall. I hope that everyone with an interest in healthcare will contribute to this consultation, so that we can realise the potential for European cooperation on healthcare to bring benefits to all.”

This consultation follows the discussion held by the Commission on 5 September (see IP/06/1150).

Issues addressed in the consultation

The consultation seeks input on issues such as:

  • where greater legal certainty is required to facilitate cross-border healthcare in practice (eg: terms and conditions under which cross-border healthcare must be authorised and paid for; whose rules apply; and what happens when things go wrong);
  • areas where European action can support Member States, such as networks of centres of reference and realising the potential of health innovation;
  • what tools would be appropriate to tackle these different issues at EU level – whether binding legal instruments, ‘soft law’ or other means;
  • and the current impact of cross-border healthcare on accessibility, quality and financial sustainability of healthcare systems, both for ‘sending’ and ‘receiving’ countries.

Next steps

With today’s adoption of this Communication, consultation on these issues is launched for four months (until 31 January 2007). On the basis of the responses to this consultation, the Commission will bring forward proposals later in 2007.
For further information please see:

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