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European Commissioner for Health
Speech in the European Parliament debate on the Vergnaud report on Health
President, Honourable Members,
Following the exclusion of health services from the services directive the Commission announced that it will address these issues through a separate initiative.
As a first step, the Commission launched in September 2006 a public consultation regarding the Community action on health services.
The public consultation was closed at the end of January 2007. The Commission has received almost 300 contributions from:
the Member States;
regional and local authorities;
European, national and regional organisations representing
social security institutions and health insurers;
and even individual citizens.
The contributions received broadly confirm the need for Community action to address the range of issues set out in the consultation paper such as the need for legal certainty and support to cooperation between health systems.
The contributions provide many different views on the details, but the overall picture is clear - there is potential added value for patients, professionals and health systems overall from some form of Community action on health services.
Many stakeholders also emphasised the need to respect social objectives, as well as common values such as universality, access to good quality care, equity and solidarity as set out by Health Ministers in June 2006.
These provide a good reference point for any Community action.
The challenge therefore is not to make a choice between the internal market and social values, but to put in place a framework that can bring both the benefits of freedom of movement and respect for health objectives and social values.
This was confirmed by health ministers also at the recent Informal Health Council in Aachen.
The Commission welcomes the interest of the European Parliament in these issues and will ensure that its input is taken fully into account.
The draft European Parliament Report broadly reflects the issues that were identified by many stakeholders during our public consultation.
This underlines the need for European action on these issues.
However, as regards the instruments for such action, last year, health services were excluded from the scope of the services directive at the request of the European Parliament, and the Commission was invited to come up with specific proposals on health services.
The Commission agreed to this approach. The Commission therefore does not intend to re-open the discussion regarding a possible re-inclusion in the services directive.
On the basis of the results of the public consultation, the outcomes of the discussion of health ministers in Aachen and the input of the European Parliament, the Commission plans to bring forward concrete proposals before the end of 2007.
The Commission aims to come forward with proposals that provide real added value for patients, health professionals and healthcare providers, without creating new bureaucratic barriers and respecting the principle of subsidiarity.