On June the 3rd four Young Gasteiners Alumni Gabriele Pastorino, Roberta Savli, Francesco Florindi and Ann Marie Borg were offered the great opportunity to join the European Commission trainees’ Health Affairs Sub-committee for the so-called ‘’Political Hour’’ meeting.
The meeting provided a unique platform to meet and interact with Commissioner Andriukaitis’ cabinet and gave participants the possibility to ask questions and to engage in active discussions.
The delegation was received by the Head of Cabinet,Mr Arunas Vinciunas, and by Ms Paula Duarte, Cabinet expert. After a brief introduction the delegates engaged in a Q&A session on the Political Priorities of the Commissioner and asked questions targeting some of the Andriukaitis agenda’s “hot topics”.
Several technical and political issues were touched upon and the Cabinet representatives provided genuine answers and feedback taking advantage of the rather informal setting of the discussion.
Among the themes that came up and were debated:
- what are the strategies and challenges to support the Member States to strengthen intersectoral governance, whole of society and cross-policy approaches to ensure health is taken into account by all governmental policies
- using economics of prevention’s data and economic cases to assert the need to develop certain public health policies and develop new regulations
- patients’ empowerment and patients’ increased participation in decisions to influence policies
- the new EU Health Programme and how it supports patients’ organisations
- the role of the health sector lobbies and the challenges for the European Commission to listen to their perspective as part of a transparent legislative process
The Head of Cabinet underlined the challenges to bring together the policy positions of all Member States on a subject matter – health – which is still strongly controlled by Member States themselves as part of their national competencies.
Notwithstanding the objective limits imposed on DG SANTE by the Treaties, some European health policies have achieved considerable success, if not directly affecting the life of patients, at least harmonising the way several Member States face common health threats. For instance Ms Duarte stressed the Commission’s 30 years-long experience on cancer, which will be further enhanced by the launch of new work on rare cancers as foreseen in the work plan 2015 of the Health Programme.
The meeting was a real success and a truly unique occasion for young Gasteiners to be exposed to high level policy decision makers in a really informal context. It was the first of what we hope will become a regular cooperation between the Young Forum Gastein and the EC Health Affairs Sub-committee, a sub-committee whose goal it is to create a network of trainees from across all Directorate Generals who are interested in/working on health-related issues.
This blog entry was written by Young Gasteiner Gabriele Pastorino.