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EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Health and social security

28-06-2019

While responsibility for health and social security lies primarily with the governments of the individual European Union (EU) Member States, the EU complements national policies, especially those with a cross-border dimension. In a recent poll conducted for the European Parliament, more than two thirds of EU citizens expressed support for increased EU action on health and social security. EU health policy aims to foster good health, protect citizens from health threats and support dynamic health ...

While responsibility for health and social security lies primarily with the governments of the individual European Union (EU) Member States, the EU complements national policies, especially those with a cross-border dimension. In a recent poll conducted for the European Parliament, more than two thirds of EU citizens expressed support for increased EU action on health and social security. EU health policy aims to foster good health, protect citizens from health threats and support dynamic health systems. It is mainly implemented through EU action programmes, currently the third health programme (2014-2020). Challenges include tackling the health needs of an ageing population and reducing the incidence of preventable chronic diseases. Since 2014, steps forward have been made in a number of areas, including antimicrobial resistance, childhood obesity, health systems, medical devices and vaccination. EU action on social security issues in the EU is closely related to the implementation of what is known as the European Pillar of Social Rights as well as labour market developments. The EU helps to promote social cohesion, seeking to foster equality as well as solidarity through adequate, accessible and financially sustainable social protection systems and social inclusion policies. EU spending on social security is tied to labour market measures. Progress can be observed on issues such as work-life balance and equal opportunities, but there is more to do. In the future, social protection schemes will need to be further adapted to the new labour market realities (fewer manufacturing jobs, atypical contracts, 'platform work', etc.). In its proposal for the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework, the European Commission plans to boost funding to improve workers' employment opportunities, and strengthen social cohesion through an enlarged 'European Social Fund Plus'. The fund would also incorporate finance for the stand-alone health programme, with the aim of creating synergies with the other building blocks of the European Pillar of Social Rights: equal opportunities and access to the labour market; fair working conditions; and social protection and inclusion. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Boosting cooperation on health technology assessment

15-04-2019

The European Commission has proposed a regulation on health technology assessment (HTA). HTA is a research-based tool that supports decision-making in healthcare by assessing the added value of a given health technology compared to others. The proposal would provide the basis for permanent EU-level cooperation in four areas. Member States would still be responsible for assessing the non-clinical (economic, ethical, social, etc.) aspects of health technology, and for pricing and reimbursement. While ...

The European Commission has proposed a regulation on health technology assessment (HTA). HTA is a research-based tool that supports decision-making in healthcare by assessing the added value of a given health technology compared to others. The proposal would provide the basis for permanent EU-level cooperation in four areas. Member States would still be responsible for assessing the non-clinical (economic, ethical, social, etc.) aspects of health technology, and for pricing and reimbursement. While Member States could choose to delay participation in the joint work until three years after the rules enter into force, it would become mandatory after six years. Stakeholders have broadly welcomed the proposal. National parliaments, however, are divided in their appreciation of it. The Council has not yet agreed its position; technical discussions continue. Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted its report on 13 September 2018, and the report was voted in plenary on 3 October. However, with interinstitutional trilogue negotiations unable to start, on the Council side, Parliament adopted its final position at first reading on 14 February 2019.

The productivity riddle: Supporting long-term economic growth in the EU

03-12-2018

Productivity has a key role to play in the EU's long-term economic growth. The recent economic recovery has reversed the negative trend but concerns remain about long-term prospects. Productivity varies across the EU, with newer Member States reaching only about half the level of the older ones (EU-15) when measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per hour worked, but showing a higher growth dynamic. The recent poor productivity growth in the EU raises a number of important policy questions ...

Productivity has a key role to play in the EU's long-term economic growth. The recent economic recovery has reversed the negative trend but concerns remain about long-term prospects. Productivity varies across the EU, with newer Member States reaching only about half the level of the older ones (EU-15) when measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per hour worked, but showing a higher growth dynamic. The recent poor productivity growth in the EU raises a number of important policy questions. First, there is no consensus on the reasons behind it or the best ways to remedy it. There are also conflicting views regarding how long this situation will continue. Most economists believe the current weak growth trend may be explained by a combination of cyclical and structural economic weaknesses that need to be addressed by a mix of shorter and longer-term measures. Remedies for low productivity include increasing labour market participation, strengthening product market competition, encouraging demand, investment and lending to companies, as well as restructuring inefficient markets, disseminating technology and generalising digitalisation. In the EU context, particularly important factors conducive to productivity growth include creating a genuine single market for services, boosting digitalisation across economic sectors and addressing long-term challenges, such as the ageing society and rising income inequalities, as well as implementing long-awaited structural reforms in the Member States.

Investment in infrastructure in the EU: Gaps, challenges, and opportunities

03-10-2018

Public infrastructure consists of the basic physical assets and structures that support economic activity. Investment in such assets is markedly different from other types of capital expenditure, due to the heavy involvement of the public sector and the significant positive spill-over that it generates throughout the economy. Yet the same characteristics that underlie infrastructure investment can also result in its under-provision over time, due to factors such as fiscal constraints. In the European ...

Public infrastructure consists of the basic physical assets and structures that support economic activity. Investment in such assets is markedly different from other types of capital expenditure, due to the heavy involvement of the public sector and the significant positive spill-over that it generates throughout the economy. Yet the same characteristics that underlie infrastructure investment can also result in its under-provision over time, due to factors such as fiscal constraints. In the European Union (EU), following a period of sustained growth, investment in infrastructure has been declining since 2009. Despite the gradual easing of this negative trend from 2015, investment rates remain below pre-crisis levels. This has given rise to a lively debate over the emergence of an investment gap and its implications for the EU's economic recovery and competitiveness. This is because investment in infrastructure has the potential not only to boost aggregate demand in the short term, but also to bring important benefits over the longer term by broadening the productive capacity of the economy as a whole. Estimates for the EU indicate that plummeting investment is below the levels needed. European Investment Bank (EIB) estimates suggest that economic infrastructure investment needs for energy, transport, water and sanitation, and telecoms are as much as €688 billion per year. Additional estimates for social infrastructure suggest that the investment gap for health, education and social housing is at €142 billion per year. The mobilisation of resources required is therefore significant. In due recognition of the emerging needs, the current and previous multiannual financial frameworks put emphasis on the expansion of programmes and initiatives where infrastructure plays a prominent role, both directly, as the primary targeted sector, and indirectly through broader interventions covering a range of sectors.

Fighting child poverty: the role of EU funding

16-08-2018

The study focuses on the role of EU funding in fighting multidimensional child poverty in EU Member States. It analyses the use of EU funding (ESF, ERDF, EAFRD and FEAD) to address the problems of children at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and in particular materially deprived children. It reveals that although investments addressing child poverty problems are less visible in the strategic and monitoring framework of EU funds, Member States do use the available EU funding.

The study focuses on the role of EU funding in fighting multidimensional child poverty in EU Member States. It analyses the use of EU funding (ESF, ERDF, EAFRD and FEAD) to address the problems of children at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and in particular materially deprived children. It reveals that although investments addressing child poverty problems are less visible in the strategic and monitoring framework of EU funds, Member States do use the available EU funding.

Parlamendiväline autor

Haroldas BROZAITIS, Alina MAKAREVICIENE, Karolina LIPNICKIENE et al., PPMI

3D bio-printing for medical and enhancement purposes

20-07-2018

3D bio-printing is defined here as the use of 3D printing technology for applications related to the body, whether the products themselves include biological material or not, and whether or not their purpose is medical. It includes any application for rehabilitating, supporting or augmenting any kind of biological functionality. The impacts of 3D bio-printing are uncertain, and it is not clear which actions may be required to foster responsible development of the technology. A STOA study, 'Additive ...

3D bio-printing is defined here as the use of 3D printing technology for applications related to the body, whether the products themselves include biological material or not, and whether or not their purpose is medical. It includes any application for rehabilitating, supporting or augmenting any kind of biological functionality. The impacts of 3D bio-printing are uncertain, and it is not clear which actions may be required to foster responsible development of the technology. A STOA study, 'Additive bio-manufacturing: 3D printing for medical recovery and human enhancement, responded to these uncertainties by describing the state of the art and future development prospects of 3D bio-printing technology, analysing their wide-ranging impacts – including social, ethical and economic aspects – and identifying key policy challenges along with options to respond to them. Key challenges and responsive options were identified in the approach to regulation, in managing the distribution of costs and benefits, and in the role of citizens in technology development. This In-depth Analysis draws upon the findings of the STOA Study, summarising and reflecting upon its key findings. The conclusions highlight key trends and offer further reflections on the study in the context of responsible research and innovation.

Strengthening EU cooperation on health technology assessment

18-06-2018

The impact assessment (IA) accompanying the Commission proposal on strengthening EU cooperation on Health Technology Assessment clearly defines the problem, as well as the general and specific objectives. However, the IA does not appear to have succeeded in presenting a very convincing range of options. The analysis of impacts focuses on the economic dimension, which is consistent with the manner in which the problems have been defined. In light of the reported concentration of SMEs in the medical ...

The impact assessment (IA) accompanying the Commission proposal on strengthening EU cooperation on Health Technology Assessment clearly defines the problem, as well as the general and specific objectives. However, the IA does not appear to have succeeded in presenting a very convincing range of options. The analysis of impacts focuses on the economic dimension, which is consistent with the manner in which the problems have been defined. In light of the reported concentration of SMEs in the medical technologies sector (95 %), more emphasis could have been put on analysing the impacts of the retained options on them. The stakeholders' views have been illustrated in a satisfactory way. The evidence included or referenced in the IA is copious and up to date. The IA appears to have addressed most of the RSB's recommendations. Finally, the legislative proposal appears to be consistent with the analysis carried out in the IA.

Digitalisation and Big Data: implications for the health sector

15-06-2018

This report summarises the presentations and discussions of the Workshop on “Digitalisation and Big Data: implications for the health sector”, held on 19 June 2018 at the European Parliament. The aims of the workshop were to analyse the implications of digitalisation and Big Data for the health sector. The workshop was hosted by Ms Soledad Cabezón Ruiz (MEP) and Mr Alojz Peterle (MEP).

This report summarises the presentations and discussions of the Workshop on “Digitalisation and Big Data: implications for the health sector”, held on 19 June 2018 at the European Parliament. The aims of the workshop were to analyse the implications of digitalisation and Big Data for the health sector. The workshop was hosted by Ms Soledad Cabezón Ruiz (MEP) and Mr Alojz Peterle (MEP).

Parlamendiväline autor

Prof. Stefania Boccia, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy, Dr Roberta Pastorino, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy, Dr Luca Giraldi, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy, Ms Kimberley van den Bergen, ECORYS Netherlands B.V., Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Socioeconomic inequality in Russia

19-04-2018

Russia has gone from Soviet-era egalitarianism to extremes of wealth and poverty. Economic growth since 2000 has slightly reduced the gap between rich and poor, but inequality is still higher than in most other developed countries. The income gap is exacerbated by such factors as corruption and low taxes for the rich, but it is also mitigated by a relatively inclusive education system.

Russia has gone from Soviet-era egalitarianism to extremes of wealth and poverty. Economic growth since 2000 has slightly reduced the gap between rich and poor, but inequality is still higher than in most other developed countries. The income gap is exacerbated by such factors as corruption and low taxes for the rich, but it is also mitigated by a relatively inclusive education system.

What if manmade biological organisms could help treat cancer?

08-09-2017

Synthetic biology is expected to begin to design, construct and develop artificial (i.e. man-made) biological systems that mimic or even go beyond naturally occurring biological systems. Applications of synthetic biology in the healthcare domain hold great promise, but also raise a number of questions. What are the benefits and challenges of this emerging field? What ethical and social issues arise from this engineering approach to biology?

Synthetic biology is expected to begin to design, construct and develop artificial (i.e. man-made) biological systems that mimic or even go beyond naturally occurring biological systems. Applications of synthetic biology in the healthcare domain hold great promise, but also raise a number of questions. What are the benefits and challenges of this emerging field? What ethical and social issues arise from this engineering approach to biology?

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