International Workshop The European Health Union TOWARDS A HEALTHIER AND SAFER UNION

Hosted by Dipartimento Funzionale Malattie Rare - Azienda Ospedale Università di Padova

24 February 2023
Via San Francesco, 90, Padova, Italy


With of budget of €5.3 billion, the EU4 Health program 2021-2027 represents an unparalleled EU financial support in the health area. Releasing
such an ambitious program the European Commission has given the clear message that public health is a priority for the EU. Health means
welfare, social peace, productivity and progress.
The EU4 Health program has been conceived as one of the main instruments to pave the way to the European Health Union (EHU). Areas of
investments are: the urgent health priorities boosted by the COVID-19 crisis, the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the Pharmaceutical Strategy for
Europe, the digitalization of domestic health systems, the antimicrobial resistance and vaccination strategies, as well as successful initiatives like
the European Reference Networks [ERNs] for rare diseases and, in general, the EU-wide cooperation on global health threats and challenges.
Much work still needs to be done in order to realize the EHU: an overarching political and policy strategy, acting as a framework for the Member
States, has to be designed; already existing national and international regulations need to be revised; the awareness of EU citizens and other
major stakeholders (e.g. political parties, national and regional health authorities, economic players in the health-sector) needs to be raised.
Further, the innovative technological solutions that are setting new paradigms for daily clinical practice and caring for individuals and public
health must be implemented more extensively throughout the EU. And lastly, “proofs of concepts” need to be developed in order to confirm the
working hypotheses underlying the idea of a European Health Union. A Next Generation EU has to be nurtured also in this field.
The EHU could be considered as a fundamental element to consolidate the vision stated in the European Pillar of Social Rights, according to
which everyone in the EU should have “the right to timely access to affordable, preventive and curative health care of good quality”, this being a
necessary step to complete the European project, going beyond economic and monetary integration. The idea of creating the EHU is based on
the same fundamental inspiring concept of the European Social Union of sustaining/promoting two types of solidarity: “a pan-European
solidarity between countries (…) centred on supranational institutions and the more traditional forms of national solidarity, centred on domestic
(…) institutions”.
Based on these considerations and on the growing awareness induced by the COVID-19 pandemic that equitable and effective healthcare
cannot be left to the individual action of Member States alone, we thought to promote, in conjunction with The Rare Disease Day 2023 and with
the beginning of a new phase of the ERNs, an international multi-professional and multi-disciplinary workshop aimed at promoting a
constructive, bottom-up discussion – and, ideally, concrete proposals – to contribute to building the European Health Union.