Communication Launch Event 20- 21 September 2017
To mark the adoption of the Communication, a launch event took place on the 20-21 September in Brussels with high level speakers such as the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu and the President of the European Committee of the Regions, Mr Karl-Heinz Lambertz.
Duringthe Conference, the Commission outlined their findings on persisting legal and administrative obstacles to border interaction.During the Keynote Speech, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy MsCrețu put forward examples of what can be done to remove hurdles that obstruct growth, healthcare and labour mobility in border regions The Commissioner emphasized the many common challenges the border regions faces in terms of providing functional and effective infrastructure over the borders, as well as healthcare and public services among others. Ms Crețu also addressed the single market and the digital single market as important structures for the improvement of cross-border services.
The Commissioner also mentioned that in late 2017, the Commission will launch a call for projects related to reduce border obstacles. These calls will primarily focus on the health sector and transport issues which the Commissioner finds especially important in these regions. The call for projects will also focus on putting public services together in border regions to reduce obstacles for workers in these regions.
The President of the Committee of the Regions, Mr Karl-Heinz Lambertz, spoke of the importance of the people-to-people approach in relation to cross-border issues. Mr Lambertz stressed that it’s important that the border regions citizens feel that they are a part of Europe, in order to succeed in creating dynamic and functional cross-border services. To give added value to citizens in these regions should be our main priority when working on these issues, according to Mr Lambertz.
During the second part of the conference, the Director of Health systems, medical products and innovation at DG Sante, Mr Andrzej Jan Rys, expressed the complexity of putting 28 different health systems in Europe together. Mr Rys addressed the difference in medical culture, the role of doctors, payment systems, overall approach and language as examples of barriers that can complicate cross-border healthcare. Around 80% of the systems don’t match, according to the Director. However, he stressed that health systems that are different can complement each other and create greater opportunities than obstacles. As a conclusion, Mr Rys argued that we need to “increase knowledge travel instead of patient travel”, meaning that our aim should be to share and increase knowledge in the medical sector and reduce the travels of patients.
Mr Henri Lewalle, expert on Franco-Belgian Agreements on cross-border healthcare, presented the healthcare cooperation, emergency medical care and the medico-social cooperation being implemented along the Franco-Belgian border. The cooperation can be seen as an example on how two health systems can use their differences to complement each other, share knowledge and ultimately improve the healthcare for their border region citizens. The project started under a Interreg program where a first inter-hospital agreement was sealed. The purpose of the agreement was to exchange and share information on the organizational, operational and financial models of their healthcare systems. Today, the Franco-Belgian border regions exist of organised zones for cross-border access to healthcare (ZOAST),which are cross-border healthcare districts where the borders are removed for the purpose of close access to healthcare for the citizens.
Please find the study “European Cross-border Cooperation on Health: Theory and Practice” here.
Brochure: “Overcoming obstacles in border regions”