The 2021 Work Programme is the second Work Programme of the Von der Leyen Commission entitled “Repairing the world of today by shaping the world of tomorrow” which address the COVID-19 pandemic. The Programme sets the political direction the new Commission will take in the coming twelve months.
Among the healthcare initiatives, it should be noted that the Work Programme includes :
- The launch of the European health data space and thus a legislative proposal to be published in Q4 2021 to harness data for better healthcare, better research, and better policy making to the benefit of patients.
- A Proposal to establish a new European biomedical research and development agency planned in Q4 2021. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and to be better prepared for future health crisis, the objective would be to establish a EU version of the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA) in the US.
- The revision of the Blood, and Tissues and Cells Directives planned in Q4/2021. According to the description in the document ( “the revision would allow the possibility to merge the basic acts into a single instrument”), the Blood Directive and the Tissues & Cells Directive – now distinct basic acts – could be merged into one single main legal act.
- Evaluation of the Directive 2011/24/EU on the application on patient rights in cross-border healthcare (no specific timeline provided). Ten years after the Directive’s adoption, the evaluation will assess whether the Directive’s objectives have been met. The evaluation will look into the approaches implemented by Member States in practice, how effectively these are working and what areas still act as barriers to patients seeking healthcare across borders.
With regard to digitisation strategy, the Commission announced to take action:
- Legislative Proposals covering the safety, liability, fundamental rights and data aspects of artificial intelligence;
- A Data Act to set the right conditions for better control and conditions for data sharing for citizens and businesses.
With important health actions taking place as planned, it appears that the Commission is determined to prioritise health-related activities as the recent experiences during COVID-19 have.
For further information, the full documents can be accessed here