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Round table: the silent revolution towards sustainable health care systems in Europe. (workshop)

Groenewegen, P.P. Round table: the silent revolution towards sustainable health care systems in Europe. (workshop) European Journal of Public Health: 2013, 23(Suppl. 1), p. 8. Abstract. 6th European Public Health Conference: Health in Europe: are we there yet? Learning from the past, building the future. 13-16 November 2013, Brussel.
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Under the subsidiarity principles of the EU Member States have always had great autonomy in organising their health care systems, contributing to the patchwork of different health care systems across the EU. However, due to the continuing economic and political crisis, an unprecedented - and relatively unknown - shift is occuring in this balance of powers between the EU and Member States. To ensure that Member States reach their Europe 2020 targets, the European Commission has set up a yearly cycle of economic policy coordination called the European Semester. Each year the European Commission provides recommendations on EU Member States’ programmes of economic and structural reforms for the next year. Where recommendations are not acted on within the given time-frame, policy warnings or even sanctions can be issued. As health care expenditures are a large and rising part of member states’ budgets, health care organisation will often be the target for such reforms. As a consequence, for the first time in the history of the EU there is a strong driving force towards convergence of health care systems. In parallel, preparations for the new Structural Fund programmes for 2014-2020 are on-going. As EU countries must decide how to use their share of the Structural Funds, this too can act as an opportunity to implement reforms needed to establish efficient and sustainable health systems. In the workshop we will address this shifting balance and its possible effects on health care systems. What converging trends might one expect (if any) and how to ensure that these reforms take into account the perspectives of stakeholders within the health care field itself, rather than Ministries of Finance, where the primary responsibility for financial reforms often lies. The first presentation will provide an explanation of how the European Semester and Structural Funds work and will provide an impact assessment of their influence on health care systems. Next, stakeholders from different sides will respond to this possible landscape, one representing the
stakeholders’ views in health care, the other from a national policy perspective. They will address questions such as how to move away from the current dominance in EU measures on economic growth and fiscal consolidation; and whether there is a preferred model of organising health care that combines
multiple perspectives. Key messages: 1.Both the European Semester and Structural Funds have potentially huge impacts on how health systems are organised. 2. Will they be drivers for converging health care systems, in which direction and what are the consequences from the perspective of stakeholders and national policy?