Resilience of the European health system: proposals from the EU Commission

Maria Rosaria Della Porta

We cannot wait for the end of the pandemic to repair and prepare for the future. We will build the foundations of a stronger European Health Union in which 27 countries work together to detect, prepare and respond collectively”, as declared by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, speaking at the World Health Summit in October 2020.

Therefore, the European Commission is committed to building a strong European Health Union, where all EU countries, together, will prepare and respond to health crises, with available, affordable and innovative medical supplies, and work together to improve prevention, treatment and aftercare for diseases such as cancer.

The European Health Union should better protect the health of European citizens, equip the EU and its Member States to better prevent and address future pandemics and improve the resilience of Europe’s health systems.

A recent VideoTalk “TOWARDS A EUROPEAN HEALTH UNION? Lessons learned, future challenges”, held by the Institute for Competitiveness (I-Com), focused precisely on the analysis of the key initiatives being put into place by the EU Commission to build a European Health Union.

In addition to the Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe and the European Plan to Beat Cancer, the EU Commission has undertaken to reinforce the mandate of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). These activities aim to improve European resilience to health crisis and are seen as a first step towards a European Health Union.

The participants in the I-Com debate supported the Commission’s initiative agreeing on the necessity to reinforce the existing structure of the ECDC in different areas: crisis preparedness and response planning, epidemiological surveillance, prevention of communicable diseases, creation of an efficient system for automated contact tracing, and coordination of the previous and new networks.

Moreover, participants underlined that the EMA also needs to be strengthened, adopting monitoring and reporting procedures, and developing IT tools to check on the supply chain to prevent major crises from escalating.  As well, it was recalled that industries need to partner up with institutions leading to better collaboration.

It was also recalled that improving the competitiveness of enterprises, with special emphasis on SMEs, is essential to a genuinely thriving EU market. The main challenges to be addressed here are the supply chain vulnerabilities, the health care capacity constraints and the system fragmentation.

In this context, the pharmaceutical strategy will definitively support a competitive and innovative European pharmaceutical industry and enhance resilience through diversified supply chains, environmental sustainability and crisis preparedness.


Research Fellow dell'Istituto per la Competitività (I-Com). Laureata in Economia presso l’Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”, con una tesi in Finanza Aziendale Internazionale. Successivamente ha conseguito un master di II livello in “Concorrenza, economia della regolamentazione e della valutazione”, presso la medesima università.

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