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Brussels, 28 November 2006

Health services: Commissioner Kyprianou and European Health Ministers to hold first round table discussion

European Health Ministers will tomorrow hold a first round table discussion on health services, hosted by Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou. This follows up on the debate held by the European Commission on 5 September, and the Communication adopted on 26th September which launched a broad public consultation on this issue. The consultation focuses on how to ensure legal certainty for cross-border healthcare under EU law, and to support co-operation between the health systems of the Member States. It will run until 31 January 2007. On the basis of the results of the consultation, the Commission will detail proposals in 2007.

“I am looking forward to a candid political discussion on this important issue with EU Health Ministers,” said Commissioner Kyprianou. “Ministers have emphasised before the need to address the issue of health services in a coordinated and consistent way across Europe. My objective is to seek their views on how we can ensure a clear legal framework within which patients and health care professionals have the chance to move freely in Europe, while at the same time fostering sustainable health care systems. The prize we are working towards is a framework which enables Member States to make the most of the potential of European health services.”

Health services across Europe

Health Ministers will for the first time have the chance to address issues raised by the Commission consultation on health services, including:

  • 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.

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