Health policy expected to be a prominent topic at the Conference on the Future of Europe

17 March 2021

On March 10, 2021, European Parliament President David Sassoli, António Costa, Portugal’s Prime Minister, on behalf of the Presidency of the Council, and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signed the Joint Declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe.  The Conference aims to give citizens a greater say in shaping EU policies and ambitions. It seeks to develop a platform where citizens from all corners of the EU can have a transparent and structured debate on the issues that matter most to them, ranging from economic recovery, health and well-being, innovation and digitalisation, to climate and the environment.

The European Commission’s Ursula von der Leyen is looking forward to hearing from a diverse group of participants: ‘From young and old, city dwellers and rural residents. From Erasmus students to those who took to the streets in the Pulse of Europe demonstrations. And from those, who have their doubts if ‘creating an ever-closer Union’ is the right road to take’. The most recent EU-wide survey shows that six in ten Europeans agree that the coronavirus crisis has made them reflect on the future of the European Union, and an overwhelming 92% say their voices should be taken into account more for decisions relating to the future of Europe. Some of the developments that resonate most with Europeans are comparable living standards and stronger solidarity among member states. A quarter of all Europeans also want a common health policy to be developed.

Health and health policy are likely to be prominent topics during the Conference, with strong engagement from experts and researchers, civil society and NGOs, and patient organisations. As the EU’s health pillar, the Beating Cancer Plan, is expected to be high up on the agenda, however, other non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, should not be overlooked. One in ten people live with diabetes in the EU and diabetes accounted for 9% of the EU’s direct health expenditure in 2019. It’s high time to have a constructive discussion around the key policy actions required to flatten the diabetes curve, improve the lives of people with diabetes and reduce health inequalities. Strong political will, an accelerated move towards digitalisation of health services, efficient use of data, and investments in research are crucial to ensure better quality health outcomes for all.

The opening event of the Conference is tentatively planned to take place on 9 May, Europe’s day, in Strasbourg. The Conference is expected to reach conclusions to provide guidance on the future of Europe by Spring 2022.

The joint declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe can be found here.

The joint press statement can be found here.

Press release on EU-wide survey on the Conference is available here.