17.04.2019 | Brussels Background European Health Care Funding - There´s more than meets the eye

The European Parliament has just voted on the new Research Framework Program FP9, better known as Horizon Europe. The program shall foster research and innovation across the European Union and constitutes one of the big chunks of the next EU budget in the period of 2021-2027. Whereas many of the projects are concerned with innovation and the future of healthcare in Europe, the European Union does finance many more projects that directly affect the life and health of its citizens.

The research framework program is certainly a milestone of European integration and is able to connect brilliant scientists as well as industry and the public sector. The results, however, may often constitute a major step forward for science, but are difficult to grasp for lay people and the benefits for health and EU citizens may often take years to materialize. Luckily, these are not the only instruments the European Union can and does use to invest heavily in healthcare with tangible results for its citizens on a daily basis.

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) support local and regional projects that contribute to job creation and a sustainable European economy. Health has been identified as a key cornerstone to achieve that goal. Therefore, it is not surprising that the different funding instruments set up under the ESIF umbrella have financed over 7000 health-related projects over a period of 2014 to 2020. The majority of projects support the themes health promotion, reform of health systems, research and innovation, e-health and the health workforce. In total over EUR 8 billion were spent on these health projects, which implies an average project budget of EUR 1.2 million. The website esifundsforhealth.eu provides a detailed overview of projects and initiatives that have been financed. 

Although according to the latest Eurobarometer survey, more than 70% (19% increase compared to 2016) of the citizens want the EU to step up its health care activities, it remains a question why the nearly EUR 8 billion investment in health from EU budgets go unnoticed. These EUR 8 billion do not even include the investments done under the so called Juncker Investment Plan, which also financed health-related projects. The EUR 150 million loan to support a Swedish hospital to construct new buildings and develop new e-health measures such as a new electronic patient file system is just one of many projects that have been financed in the past years.  The best part about these projects: they are tangible results for EU citizens directly affecting and improving their lives.

These investments that often remain unnoticed is just one reason why we need to preserve this European Union. We as BPI have identified several others. Check them out here (German)!