New EU Health Programme

The EU4Health 2021-2027: A vision for a healthier European Union

By Noel Guscott

The European Commission, with the cautious support of European state health ministers, has developed and proposed an ambitious, €9.4 billion health programme slated to begin in 2021. Known as “EU4Health”, this new initiative marks a fiscal and administrative expansion in comparison to the previous EU health programme.

This policy framework has three primary goals: it will boost EU preparedness for major cross border health threats, strengthen health systems to face epidemics and other long-term health challenges, and will make medicines and medical devices available and affordable within the European Union.

This programme was certainly designed to help EU Member States respond to and recover from COVID-19, but this also represents a strategic bid to strengthen EU health coordination. However, the planned longevity of this programme may be in jeopardy according to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Based on official budget proposals, the majority of EU4Health’s funding would originate from a pandemic recovery fund which must be allocated by 2024, halfway through EU4Health’s implementation period. The European Commission has planned to begin taking funding applications for EU4Health in 2021, but the funding and structure of the programme may be subject to changes until late 2020.