Nurses celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Rome Treaty

Nurses celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Rome Treaty

Posted on March 24, 2017

60 years ago, on 25th March 1957, a treaty was signed in Rome, giving birth to the European Economic Community (EEC), with signatory countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany) “determined to lay the foundations of an ‘ever-closer union’ among the peoples of Europe”. On the day the Europeans are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaty, and the nursing community is celebrating the 46th anniversary of the European Federation of Nurses Associations (EFN), we can say that Europe has reached a much stronger and closer integration, going much further than a mere customs union.

The achievements and benefits for EU citizens are numerous, but we, at the EFN, are very proud of all the improvements that we have been able to provide to 3 million nurses throughout Europe. Through the national and the EFN memberships, nurses have invested and advanced their working conditions, rights and profession through EU legislation. The biggest gain for our profession is the free movement of professionals! Already in 1977, two Directives on the mutual recognition of certificates and diplomas for the nursing profession were in place. Of course, at the time, the only countries concerned were Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In 2005, a general qualifications’ Directive was agreed upon and, in 2013, the EU institutions agreed on advancing the nursing profession even more through the Directive 2013/55/EU. Nurses are proud to have an article 31 outlining their competences and highlighting the independence of the profession. Next to that, the EFN Competency Framework supports compliance with those Directives. We want each nursing students coming on the EU market, to be EU nurses. This EU nurse is part of a very clear EFN workforce Matrix 3+1 which gives clarity on the three categories of nursing care (general care nurse, specialist nurse and advanced nurse practitioner), and recognises the important role of Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) and the leading role of nurses in their supervision in the development of HCAs.

Furthermore, nurses are part of a large ecosystem reform, which unites health and social care, and promotes the continuity of care. This development makes nurses’ day to day work possible and increases patients’ outcomes and satisfaction. eHealth services in nursing and social care are, for sure, of paramount importance, and we are very happy with all the support the EU provided us on this. The recently finished EFN EU project ‘ENS4Care’ is only one example of how the EU has supported this development.

Of course, we have to admit that at political level we have been going through a rather turbulent period. Nevertheless, nurses believe that the EU gives peace and prosperity to the region! Many challenges still exist, but nurses trust that frontline work is central to better outcomes. Do not forget that when you say ‘nurses’, you also say ‘women’, agents of change!

Finally, it is important to keep a broader view, and look at society as a whole, looking at all citizens. There is no innovation, no research results’ deployment, no translation of compliance with the Acquis into concrete action if the citizens are treated as “not understanding the complexity of EU policy-making”. It is not the citizens who make it complex, it is the politicians and policy-makers creating a web of complexity. Politicians and civil servants should not develop policies for the people, but with the people. Research projects should not only be about poverty, but also work with poverty organisations who know the daily reality better than anyone else. Innovation should not merely be about wellbeing and health, it should be developed with frontline professionals dealing with the issue 24h/day, 30 days/month, 365 days/year.

So, we can say that the 25th of March is a day of celebration for nurses, and citizens of the EU. We have come a long way since the EEC, and achieved great things. Although this is a reason to celebrate and be proud of our recent past, we, citizens, nurses, policy-makers and politicians should not rest here. More can be done and should be done! Good initiatives have recently been launched, such as the European Solidarity Corps and the European Pillar of Social Rights, but it is important to make sure that the implementation of those initiatives improves the life of EU citizens and becomes more than only theories and policies.