Letter from the Director
My name is Lauren Radigan and I will be the director of the United Kingdom Cabinet and the Health Council for Yale Model Government Europe (YMGE) 2018! I am a sophomore at Yale University and I am planning to pursue a double major in Political Science and Psychology. Outside of class, I am involved with YIRA as a chair for Yale Model United Nations (YMUN) and Security Council Simulation at Yale (SCSY). Other than YIRA, I am involved with an organization called Every Vote Counts, which serves to increase voter turnout in US elections by encouraging registration among young voters and trying to remove voting barriers. I am looking forward to being your director for this conference!
I decided to become a director for YMGE because of my interest in European Union politics and my desire to help younger generations gain more political knowledge and become political thinkers. The United Kingdom is a particularly interesting nation to focus on at this time as they are moving forward with their official exit from the EU. The repercussions of the departure of the United Kingdom will be a major issue for not only the UK but the rest of EU nations. The United Kingdom’s last few months in the EU will certainly be difficult ones as they struggle to make final negotiations with the EU and decide what they want their future relationship with Europe to look like.
The Health Council of the EU is constantly facing new challenges as human needs change and medicine evolves, making it a very interesting focal point for this conference. The multi-faceted nature of the health council makes it a fast paced council as it must tackle a variety of issues in a limited amount of time.
The information provided should help you prepare for your respective cabinet or council, and I look forward to seeing you all in November!
The European Union deals with a variety of health issues as the medical field is constantly evolving as a result of both new diseases and new solutions. The role of the European Union regarding health issues varies, as EU health policy is supposed to complement, not override, national health policies of the EU nations. Actions taken by the EU in the realm of public health are intended to improve the health conditions of EU citizens, promote modernisation of health infrastructure, and improve health systems across Europe. The EU may propose health legislation as well as provide financial support for health projects. The EU health council serves as a medium for EU countries to communicate with health experts and with each other to work towards better health policies for all EU citizens.
The role of the EU in health legislation has increased over time. The European Union started taking initiatives in specific health related fields in the 1970s as ministers of individual nations discussed the need for a European approach to certain issues. The first official stride into creating health policy was the establishment of the European Code Against Cancer in 1986. Though cancer was just one field of interest, there was still much progress to be made in other areas such as HIV and AIDS, vaccinations, and healthcare accessibility. The EU’s role in health matters was solidified by the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 which formalized EU health provisions with Article 129 which states
“I. The Community shall contribute to the attainment of a high level of consumer protection through:
(a) measures adopted pursuant to Article 100a in the context of the completion of the internal market;
(b) specific action which supports and supplements the policy pursued by the Member States to protect the health, safety and economic interests of consumers and to provide adequate information to consumers.”
The introduction of this legislation was pivotal for the EU’s role in health as it allowed them to take actions and pursue policy necessary to protect the health of consumers. Prior to this, health had been more of a national issue and the EU did not want to overstep national legislation which could lead to possible conflict. However, this legislation also referred to as the “EU health mandate” gave the EU a much greater role in negotiating issues of public health and creating health legislation that could be enforced across Europe. For example, the EU has worked toward legislating a public smoking ban, which is currently enforced in 17 EU countries. Since 1992, the role of the EU regarding issues of public health has grown distinctively, and the EU continues to write history as it pursues new health policies in the present day.
In recent years, the European Union has made some policy strides within the field of public health. The EU has created health policies that promote cohesion amongst the EU nations working toward common solutions to public health issues currently facing Europe. Co-financing health research has been an important step taken by the EU to promote increased research into new biomedical technologies. As EU nations face similar common health issues, co-financing research is important so that each country is contributing to reap the benefits that research will provide. Examples of co-financing projects carried out by the EU include the Health Programme, Horizon 2020, the EU cohesion policy, and the European Fund for Strategic Investments. The Health Programme provides funding to projects focused on health promotion, health security, and health information while Horizon 2020 is a research programme focused in areas of biotechnology and medical technologies. ((http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/topics/health/)
In addition to the health provisions introduced by the Maastricht Treaty, the EU is granted the power to adopt health legislation under Articles 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which states the following
“ 1. A high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities.
Union action, which shall complement national policies, shall be directed towards improving public health, preventing physical and mental illness and diseases, and obviating sources of danger to physical and mental health. Such action shall cover the fight against the major health scourges, by promoting research into their causes, their transmission and their prevention, as well as health information and education, and monitoring, early warning of and combating serious cross-border threats to health.
The Union shall complement the Member States' action in reducing drugs-related health damage, including information and prevention.
2. The Union shall encourage cooperation between the Member States in the areas referred to in this Article and, if necessary, lend support to their action. It shall in particular encourage cooperation between the Member States to improve the complementarity of their health services in cross-border areas.
Member States shall, in liaison with the Commission, coordinate among themselves their policies and programmes in the areas referred to in paragraph 1. The Commission may, in close contact with the Member States, take any useful initiative to promote such coordination, in particular initiatives aiming at the establishment of guidelines and indicators, the organisation of exchange of best practice, and the preparation of the necessary elements for periodic monitoring and evaluation. The European Parliament shall be kept fully informed.
3. The Union and the Member States shall foster cooperation with third countries and the competent international organisations in the sphere of public health.
… (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A12012E%2FTXT -- the rest of the provisions of this article can be found here)
This article is extremely important as it outlines what specific areas of public health the EU can intervene in and what their responsibilities are. It holds the EU responsible for protecting the physical and mental health of all EU citizens, allowing the EU to step in to protect people where national governments fail to take action. The Member States are to work in coordination with each other to create policy that is beneficial for all EU citizens.
As a result of these powers granted to the EU, the EU has created legislation in the following areas of public health: patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, cross border health threats, and tobacco. Examples of the EU exercising this power are seen through the aforementioned public smoking ban and the Directive on Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare, which “aims to establish rules for facilitating access to safe and high-quality cross-border healthcare in the Union and to ensure patient mobility in accordance with the principles established by the Court of Justice and to promote cooperation on healthcare between Member States”. Although the EU has made many policy pushes like this one regarding public health, there is still much to be done in terms of actual enforcement. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1122958/)
The European Union has decided which issues are of the utmost importance for the health council to focus on from now until 2020. These issues include emerging global health threats such as antimicrobial resistance, evidence-based policy making, addressing risk factors of non-communicable diseases, and promoting vaccination. The EU is doing more to prepare for serious health threats and to promote preventive measures. Vaccination is a main target of many EU health campaigns as it helps prevent the spread of diseases. Current statistics for vaccinations within the member countries are not where the EU would like them to be, as reflected by the table below.
As the EU faces newly emerging health issues, it must work even harder to resolve old ones and to ensure policies that are preventative of newly emerging diseases. The EU is often met with difficulty from member nations when it comes to enforcing EU policies and actively supporting EU initiatives, which is something the EU will need to work on if it wants to see greater benefits from EU health policies. It is important to pursue policy in the areas outlined for progress by the EU, as well as to continue pushing forward with projects such as Horizon 2020 and the expansion of the EU Health Programme.
Questions to Consider
- What level of intervention and aid will the EU provide regarding global health issues?
How will the EU enforce its health policy in all EU nations and handle resistance from member countries?
Will the EU assume greater responsibility regarding healthcare systems?
How will the EU generate funding for health projects, and how much will each member country be expected to contribute?
What will the EU do to increase vaccination in Europe?
How will the EU continue to work towards projects involving cross-border health issues?
Suggestions for Further Research
Consider current healthcare systems in the EU; what policies are working and what policies are not?
Look into statistics on disease, vaccination, and prevention in the EU
Look into how health is taught in the EU
Familiarize yourself with the ongoing major health projects undertaken by the EU
Research previous health crises and how the EU responded