Health spending must be excluded from the Stability and Growth Pact

Maria Angela Danzì MEP
Cost of health care concept, stethoscope and calculator on document and eu flag

Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The shortage of drugs, general practitioners, nurses, and anesthetists in many European countries, such as Italy, Greece, and France, is challenging the public service and the right to health in many areas of Europe.

In 1989, the European Community established a legal principle on price transparency, but since then little has been done to create the European Health Union that is now widely seen as necessary. 

HEALTH SPENDING IS EXCLUDED FROM THE DEBT CALCULATIONS

Covid-19 forced all governments, especially the Italian Conte government that managed the most severe phase of the pandemic, to invest more in public health policies. After the spending and the costs related to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, austerity has now come back: the increase in funding for the National Health Fund, included in the Meloni government’s 2023 Budget, serves just to cover the increase in energy costs in hospitals and health facilities. There is no investment and no vision of the future.

The patients must be placed back at the heart of matters, by strengthening the local medical facilities, which have been undermined by the center-right parties in many regions. For us, doctors represent the first public guardianship because they monitor the spending, the misuse, and the abuse of drugs.

We must return to investing in professional skills, perhaps by removing healthcare expenditure from the calculation of the Stability and Growth Pact, whose reform is currently under discussion.

Investing in healthcare also means ensuring research, production, strategic stockpiling and distribution of essential drugs and protective medical devices. This requires strengthening the expertise of EMA, the European Medicines Agency.

LET’S REFORM THE COMPETENCIES OF THE EMA

Our proposal envisages the strengthening of EMA: a regulatory body with powers to plan the strategic guidelines, to plan citizens’ needs, and to prevent health crises.

A public law body participated by the Member states, that would act as a central purchasing body, concluding framework agreements to guarantee a fair distribution system. This body must be able to propose research projects, in collaboration with institutes and universities, and to promote start-ups for the production of essential medicines in Europe.

This path should be furthered with a wise policy on State aid that must not favor any country but must be able to foster production and research in the general interest. Clear policies are needed on medicines, providing for rewarding and penalizing systems for market players that do not comply with price control policies.

It should not be up to private companies to decide who has the right to be treated or not. Protecting public healthcare means defending the rights of all citizens.

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Maria Angela Danzì is an Italian Mep elected with 5 Star Movement. She worked as a city clerk in Rome, Genoa, Varese, Novara and Brindisi. In 2018 she was member of the Directorate Department Civil Protection earthquake. She was appointed from the President of the Republic as "Grand Officer of the Order of Merit”, the highest-ranking honour of Italy.