7 July 2014 - After days of tough negotiations, the European Council of EU Heads of State and Government decided to nominate Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission. As the initial block of countries who opposed Juncker was finally reduced to Hungary and most strongly, the UK, the fear that the next Commission President would not be the candidate for the most voted for political group in the last EU elections faded away. Even Matteo Renzi, Italy’s Prime Minister, backed up Juncker’s nomination after he pledged to relax the European Commission’s focus on austerity and to adopt a pro-growth strategy.
As Manfred Weber, Chairman of Mr Juncker’s European People Party’s (EPP) Group in the European Parliament, stated,“the voice of European citizens has been heard. In putting forward the candidate who has been the face of the European People’s Party throughout the European elections campaign, the EU Heads of State and Government have taken an important step towards more democracy and transparency in Europe.”
EPHA would like to congratulate Juncker for the nomination and to highlight some of the priorities that the EPP put forward in the group’s election manifesto:
In its review of the EPP Group priorities 2014 - 2019, entitled a reform agenda for Europe’s future, the Group stated that "the EU has to provide more added-value to the health of EU citizens, promoting preventive measures - in particular fostering healthy lifestyles and fighting for food safety and against food fraud. The financial and social burdens of non-communicable diseases like cancer have to be decreased through effective joint EU efforts, based on successful existing initiatives, like EPAAC, CANCON and Equity Action Joint Actions."
On July 15, Juncker published his political guidelines for the new European Commission. The 14-page document highlights the need to:
The priorities of the other two groups of the European Parliament’s grand coalition are:
Prior to the European Council meeting at the end of June, the S&D group outlined its priorities for the future President of the Commission. The candidate for President of the Commission will have to make an unbreakable commitment to promote investment, sustainable growth and decent, secure jobs; tackle poverty and inequality; safeguard freedom of movement while putting an end to social dumping; strengthen respect for fundamental rights; re-inforce territorial cohesion policies; establish an effective common immigration and asylum policy; and make the EU itself more democratic, more transparent and more accountable to the citizen.
adoption of a strategy to eradicate child poverty, backed by binding targets across the EU.
implement a Social Progress Pact guaranteeing decent jobs, labour rights, quality wages for all, social protection, social dialogue and the right to organise.
counter xenophobia through the Anti-discrimination Directive currently blocked in the Council of Ministers and the adoption of a European Roma strategy.
use the new macroeconomic imbalances procedure must be used to stimulate much-needed reforms across member states - which must be introduced in a socially just way.
The new Commission must make the fight against growing social and territorial inequalities among its top priorities. The new scoreboard for employment and social indicators must become a central part of the European Semester, to be fully reflected in future country specific policy recommendations.
The new Commission must unblock the longstanding proposals to create clear rights of access to documents, in order to make the workings of the EU more transparent and open to European citizens.
EU trade negotiations must be much more open and transparent and trade must play its part in fighting against poverty and enhancing development abroad; any trade agreement must also safeguard our public services and protect the environment, high standards of public health, welfare and food safety, rights at work and fundamental human rights – including data protection. The S&D Group expects a commitment that the EU will not agree to any investor-state disputes procedure.
FOllowing the ALDE hearing with Mr Juncker, the group asked for other elements to be included in his programme.
a single legislative package based on the existing blueprint on economic governance. The current governance of the euro zone must be drastically reformed, made more democratic and accountable and crucially more effective and communitarian.
- unblocking the horizontal anti-discrimination proposal to be unblocked. This should be accompanied by a road map for LGBT rights and full use of existing instruments (if necessary by creating new ones) by the Commission to guarantee human rights and civil liberties in the Union.
EPHA would like to stress the importance of factoring in public health and people’s well-being in the next Commission’s term. All the major European political groups included a health priority in their manifestos for the European Parliament elections.
Health is a key area of concern for European populations and must be top during the new Commission’s term agenda.
The health sector constitutes 10% of EU GDP, which gives it a considerable potential for innovation as well as an important role to play in meeting societal challenges and expectations. We would like to see within the Europe 2020 strategy a stronger health dimension to deliver on people’s well-being, ensuring a healthy population as an essential part of both economic and social success.
We believe that a health adviser would help ensure an effective implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy and reinforce it with a strategic approach to health.