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European Union Health Policy With and Without Design: Serendipity, Tragedy and the Future of EU Health Policy

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The article advances four propositions about the evolution of European Union health policy. The propositions reflect the chronological and political development of EU health policies and lead on to a discussion of the future of the EU's role in health and health-related matters. The discussion addresses questions about the effectiveness, appropriateness and legitimacy of EU health actions. These are all matters about which the European Commission has voiced its concern and about which it has invited representations and opinions now that it is engaged in recasting EU health policies to meet the challenges of the new millennium. By the end of 2000 the European Commission, Council and the European Parliament will have made a series of decisions and announcements about the future of European health policy. The article comes to the conclusion that the reluctance of EU member states to support the establishment of a European Food and Public Health Authority will turn out to be a critical weakness in Commission plans to reform and strengthen the EU's competence in the field of health policy. The Union must be expected to regularly revisit its institutional arrangements for dealing with public health questions until member states agree to a truly independent EU Health Authority with a substantial and wide-ranging role in risk management as well as risk assessment and risk communication.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2000

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