S&D summit on a European Health Union – EPSU reiterates need to address funding, staffing and the role of unions and employers

EPSU GS Jan Willem Goudriaan at round table S&D summit 01.12.2020

(4 December 2020)  The global pandemic underlined the need for the EU to have clearer policies and competences regarding public health threats. It has shown the importance of public health systems that can respond to crises and protect people. It has also highlighted how underfunded and understaffed those systems have been. To address this, the Socialists and Democrats of the European Parliament published a set of ideas in May. The Parliament adopted many of these ideas and they have since found their way into the proposals of the European Commission to establish a European Health Union. To debate those proposals, EPSU participated in a high-level conference organised by the S&D, on 1 December

The conference was opened by Commission President Von der Leyen. She explained the Commission the three sets of initiatives in the Commission Package: “First, to be better prepared and responsive. Second, on the role of European Agencies. And third, setting up a real European Health Union beyond the emergencies.” The Ministers for Health of Sweden and Spain also gave their reactions. 

The EPSU General Secretary participated in a round table underlining what EPSU wants from an EU Health Union: 

  • Realisation of the right to care and universal access to health and care;
  • Adequate public funding; 
  • Safe staffing levels and safe working conditions; 
  • Better pay for health and care workers in recognition of their work and not austerity as is being pushed by the European Commission
  • Involvement of the social partners in the governance of the various plans at national and at European level. 

The meeting took place online 1 December 2020 and was webstreamed on several platforms



- For the proposals of the S&D 

- More information on the debates in the webinar 

- The resolution of the European Parliament on the European Health Union  

- Speech of Commission President Von der Leyen on the European Health Union 


The proposals of the European Commission on the European Health Union

First EPSU reaction on the Commission proposals for an EU health union