The Annual Growth Survey 2017 was published this week. It outlines the most pressing economic and social priorities on which the European Union and its Member States need to focus their attention in the coming months. The President’s State of the Union address of 14 September 2016 underlined the need for Europe to strengthen its economic recovery and invest strongly in its youth and jobseekers, as well as in its start-ups and SMEs.
In terms of healthcare, the report makes a few notable recommendations and statements. It notes that health policies should support and reinforce social safety nets and active inclusion strategies, through preventive, but also curative and rehabilitation policies. Member States are recommended to continue to reform their health systems to ensure universal access to cost effective public health and healthcare services. It is further noted that protecting the population from falling into poverty or social exclusion due to ill-health and related expenditure is essential, both from a social and economic view-point.
The report notes that public authorities in the EU spend around 14% of GDP on public procurement per year, including on the provision of health services, where the public sector is a key source of demand. It is recommended that processes must be in place that prevent corruption and collusion between suppliers and address firmly instances of unfair procurement.
The report concludes its health chapter by saying that public expenditure on health care and long-term care – driven by population ageing and technological developments – is expected to increase significantly in the coming decades. To safeguard sustainable health systems and support their positive contribution to population health and economic prosperity, further policy action is needed to enable the individual to stay healthy for longer, while making health systems more effective, accessible and resilient.