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Hearing on developments in the health care sector in Europe

Brussels (CoR Building), 06.03.2008

Wednesday 30 January 2008

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Ten years ago, we could not have guessed that health services would be such a topic of discussion at European level, considering the national nature of this policy area.

However, health care systems and health policies across the EU are becoming more interconnected than ever before. Many factors play a role in this but mobility (of patients and professionals) certainly seems to be the driving force behind it. Furthermore, the increasing role of private players, the development of new medical technologies and techniques and the fact that European citizens demand more and more information concerning health, contribute to a changing healthcare landscape in all Member States of the European Union.

The publication of the European Commission’s proposal on a framework directive for health care has been postponed. The increased interconnection of health systems throughout Europe calls for some kind of coordination and, most of all, for increased legal certainty when it comes to cross-border health care.

Even though health services were excluded from the scope of Directive 2006/123/EC (Services Directive), it does not mean that internal market rules do not apply to these services. Many elements that could be found in the Services Directive, had already been included in another relevant directive for this topic, namely Directive 2005/36/EC on Diploma Recognition. This directive was supposed to be transposed by the Member States in October 2007. In most Member States however, this deadline was not reached. It is vital to discuss the cross-border element extensively with all stakeholders, politicians and policy makers. The different trends and challenges that health care professionals are facing today, affect the entire functioning of health systems in Europe and eventually, the quality of health services.

It is therefore vital to discuss the phenomenon of mobility of health care professionals in Europe and to pay special attention to the problems related to the migration of health care professionals from (mainly) new EU member states to EU15. Investing in health care providers = investing in quality of health services throughout Europe.

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