Tomorrow, on November 1st, the new College of Commissioners of the European Union will take office. As the world’s largest donor of development assistance, Cecile Vernant of DSW asks what will change with the new European Commission and global health.
The new European Commission and global health – the spectre of Ebola
On Global Health, incoming Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s brand new team will be put to some difficult tests in the coming year. The Ebola crisis has drawn the attention of the world to the importance of investment in Global Health. It shows the disastrous consequences of lack of support for health on different fronts: not only for public health surveillance and health system strengthening, but also the need for community based health information systems, global governance and emergency coordinated response, as well as investment in research and innovation on prevention, treatment, cure and diagnostic for neglected diseases. It further illustrates how a health crisis has unavoidably harmful effects at the social and economic levels, firstly affecting the most vulnerable, namely women and children.
New European Commission and global health – 2015 a landmark year for action
Next year will be very important. 2015 is an important year for development: it is the final year to make progress on the Millennium Development Goals, most notably maternal health and access to reproductive health – which is lagging far behind. It is also the final year to agree on the architecture of the post 2015 sustainable development agenda.
The challenge for post-2015 will be to centre this framework on human rights and for the EU to speak with one and strong voice in supporting health and gender equality. This includes defending clear indicators on specific and essential aspects for sustainable development, such as sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and research and innovation for poverty-related and neglected diseases. Without these, there will be no achieving the right to health for all or of reducing inequality between all. Additionally, the EU will have to translate these priorities into the EU budget mid-term review, the future of the EU- Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), and other major dossiers in its foreign policy agenda.
New European Commission and global health – integrating SRHR
A few elements give cause for a positive outlook: presenting himself at the European Parliament, the next European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica has mentioned his active participation in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994, and how “empowering women and meeting people’s needs for education and health, including reproductive health, are necessary for both individual advancement and balanced development”. During his hearing, he also restated that the EU abides by the ICPD Programme of Action, and that building health care system in an inclusive way will continue to be an important part of EU development assistance.
He will not be alone in these endeavours: incoming Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis management Christos Stylianides, recently nominated EU Ebola Coordinator, the High representative of the Union for Foreign Policy & security, Federica Mogherini, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Health and Food safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis and Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Vĕra Jourová, will all need to collaborate. We look forward to seeing whether President Juncker’s new vice presidents and coordination structure help the EU play its leadership role in Global Health at the EU and international level.
For more information on DSW’s activities on global health, visit our campaign site – #LetsSaveLives – and support our call for investment in global health R&D
Photos Credit © European Union, 2014