The Europe 2020 Strategy was launched in 2010 to promote ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’. It sets targets for employment, innovation, climate and energy policy, education and social inclusion, most of which are in some way related to health policies and priorities. For example, public health has clear implications for work hours, labour force participation, early retirement, and health and safety at work, and these factors impact on health.
In the Annual Growth Survey health is dealt with directly, under three headings:
Health in the Memorandums of Understanding Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) are issued by the Commission, the IMF and the ECB to all EU member states as further guidance in the creation of national policy. However, those issued to countries in receipt of financial assistance are of particular importance, since the bail-out packages agreed in these cases are often conditional upon fulfilment of the MoU requirements. Examples from Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Romania provide insights into the level of international intervention in health systems being experienced by countries in receipt of financial assistance.
The Portuguese MoU on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality - Portugal has agreed to increase excise taxes so as to raise €200 million in 2012. In primary care services, reforms include the further development of cost-effective services, reduction of unnecessary visits to specialists and emergency departments and improvement of care coordination. Cost-reducing measures are also implemented.
Greek Technical MoU on Economic and Fiscal Policies - identifies priorities for health spending, such as bringing pharmaceutical spending closer to the levels experienced in other European countries, and the modernisation of the health system. The reforms aimed at improving efficiency and quality of care, and reducing hospital operating costs by eight per cent in 2012
Irish MoU on Economic and Financial Policies - for the health sector, -authorities [are] to specify the quantified measures to eliminate the spending overrun by the end of the year-. The government must better target social supports and subsidies, reduce work disincentives arising from the structure and interaction of social assistance payments.
Romanian MoU on Economic and Financial Policies - One of the aims is to reduce the scope of the public benefits package through greater reliance on cost-sharing and private supplementary insurance and the government is evaluating the option of greater private sector involvement in health care provision. A new electronic prescription module started operations in June 2012.
Health in the Employment Committee Opinion on the European Semester Work on the European Semester should be carried out by discussing social priorities with economic and budgetary priorities and linking them to each other. The Commission and the Council were invited to improve the participation and involvement of the social partners, NGOs and local authorities in the formulation and implementation of sustainable polices in the framework of European Semester at both national and European level.
A series of recommendations were made:
Read EPHA briefing Health in the Europe 2020 Strategy
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