Health-related measures in the national recovery and resilience plans

Briefing 25-09-2023

The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is the main element of Next Generation EU (NGEU), the EU's recovery plan, designed to help EU Member States navigate their way out of the COVID-19 crisis and towards a more resilient future. To receive financing from NGEU, each Member State had to prepare a national recovery and resilience plan (NRRP) and include in it reforms and investment addressing six policy areas, or the six pillars of the RRF. The fifth pillar, 'Health, and economic, social and institutional resilience', has a broad scope, but around half of the measures included in it are health-related. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic put an unprecedented strain on the EU's health systems and revealed a number of vulnerabilities, even in the best-performing Member States. Consequently, in 2020, in the framework of the European Semester, all Member States received country-specific recommendations (CSRs) in the area of health policy (up from around half of Member States in 2019). To address these recommendations, and their health systems' weaknesses, all the Member States have envisaged investment and reform measures adapted to their national contexts, and included them in their NRRPs. The most recent annual report from the European Commission on the RRF estimated the total healthcare-related expenditure at €43 billion for the 27 NRRPs. Despite differences, the NRRPs reveal a number of common themes. These include the need to expand healthcare infrastructure, modernise primary care, address staff shortages, and – not least – digitalise health services. Taken together, these measures are expected to make national healthcare sectors more robust and efficient. With all national plans in place and the implementation of the RRF well under way, this briefing gives an overview of the main health-related measures in the plans, with a spotlight on digital (e-health) measures. While Member States define and deliver their national health services and medical care, the EU is contributing greatly to the joint efforts to strengthen public health policy and build a European health union. The European Parliament has consistently promoted the establishment of a coherent public health policy, including the creation of a new stand-alone European health programme.