This evening European deputies are set to debate the future of health services in Europe, following a report which aims at reintroducing them into the scope of the ‘Services Directive’ (the former ‘Bolkestein Directive’, 2006/123/CE).
The EP Internal Market Committee adopted this report on 8th May. The rapporteur herself, MEP Bernadette Vergnaud, contested the vote and declared: ‘I was shocked (…) The Socialist Group and its allies want health services that are affordable, accessible and of high quality”.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER, www.aer.eu) has lobbied in the past years for the exclusion of health services from the scope of the ‘Directive on Services in the Internal Market’.
The AER is not against the introduction of European legislation on health services. The regions experience first hand and on a daily basis the indirect application of internal market rules to health services, but believe that this increasing application -mainly the result of EU case law- should be limited. The EU should clearly define the extent to which internal market principles apply to public health.
European regions do not agree that any EU regulation on health services should be based on the rules of the internal market.
The AER has suggested that the EU should adopt a binding legal instrument, where the principles common to all European health systems are clearly stated (for example solidarity, equity, social justice, accessibility, availability). The legal basis for this legislation should be the EC Treaty articles on Health Policy (Article 152 EC).
Such a piece of legislation would create a balance between the European internal market legislation and the particular interests of health and social services.
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