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A Stella(r) moment for health?

About this time around last year, the health care community in Brussels drew a very grim picture of the future of health care. “The end of DG SANTE” was proclaimed from the rooftops. Some tried to fight it with loud voices calling for more instead of less focus on health. And apparently these voices have been heard – Maybe a trained medical professional as European Commission President was exactly what we needed?

When President Juncker presented his white paper on the future of Europe in 2017, one scenario described a “doing less more efficiently” approach. An approach that would scrap public health from the EU’s to-do list completely. The health care world was furious and drew a gloomy picture of the future – DG SANTE no more! A year later, when it looked very grim for health care topics on the EU level, a Eurobarometer survey – often cited not only by us but also by others – showed that basically all European citizens cared about is apparently (or mostly) health care and they even wanted the EU to do more in this aspect. Admittedly, this is not easy as we all know that health care is still a core competence of the Member States. This gave the health care world a boost and led to some even demanding a “Vice President for Health” in the next Commission. Well, we haven’t gotten this far. But the future of health care in the European Union has become somewhat brighter. With the new President elect Ursula von der Leyen (or VdL as some like to call her) being a trained doctor, chances are high that health care topics might be taken a tat more seriously. In her mission statement for the EU, VdL already made clear that health care and in particular the fight against cancer will be a priority on the EU agenda. Admittedly, we also have Manfred Weber to thank for that one.