State of the European Union Speech – 2020

State of the European Union Speech – 2020

Posted on September 16, 2020

Today, Ursula Von Der Leyen, gave at the European Parliament the State of the European Union Speech (SOTEU 2020).

She expressed her thoughts on how the EU is built around the principle of solidarity, as shown during the last health crisis by care professionals at care homes, and doctors and nurses assisting those who were sick. She thanks that frontline healthcare professionals who day and night took risks that, so we did not have to. Europe should lead the way from the current fragility towards a new post-COVID-19 world. She justified that during the pandemic we gave up part of our freedom to ensure the safety of others.

She explained how much the European Commission has achieved during the Covid-19 pandemic with the little competencies they had – fostering the exchange of healthcare professionals and PPEs among the Member States. She expressed that it is time to build a stronger “European Health Union” More concretely, The new EU4Health programme needs to be future proof, that’s why she has proposed more funding to it which she hopes the European Parliament will accept. We need to remedy the cuts made by the European Council. The role of the European Medicines Agency and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control will also be empowered.

Talking about concrete actions, the European Commission will prioritise creating a new EU Agency on biomedical advances, research and development

We need to empower the role of the  European Medicines Agency  and of the  European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and continue fostering the strategic stockpiling of pharmaceutical goods and protective personal equipment at the EU level.

Another key topic on her speech was all the benefits that digitalisation has brought to the life of EU citizens, and how it has been essential to ensure the continuity of working during the harder months of confinement. The EU needs to be a leader worldwide. Europe needs to secure the collection of data collection and make it widely accessible – including health data. The EU must also put much more emphasis on artificial intelligence.

All these topics clearly link to the EFN’s work in the Brussels’ institutional arena, clearly advocating for measures that give more powers to the EU institutions in the realm of healthcare. These are the policies that are needed by the frontline nurse profession. Moreover, the EFN welcomes that many of the measures announced were picked from the recommendations of the Report on Lessons Learned from the Ebola and COVID-19 (accessible here).