BERLIN, 12 June (APM) - Germany is planning measures to enforce the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in addition to advancing discussions on health technology assessment (HTA) harmonisation during its presidency of the European Council, health minister Jens Spahn said on Friday.
As "European health institutions need more power", Germany will work on enforcing the EMA and ECDC and making them the equal of their U.S. equivalents the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Spahn said at a press conference in Berlin after an online meeting of the European Health Ministers (APMHE 67741
Spahn also noted that harmonised HTA procedures on a European level could result in "added value for all", "as smaller member states, in particular, cannot have national procedures comparable to ours".
Over the past few months, health ministry executives have "prepared the ground" for these discussions on joint HTA, but "there is still a way to go" between the European Commission, Parliament and member states, Spahn added.
Political progress on EU harmonised HTA has been stalling in the EU Health Council for several months (APMHE 66752
One of the most important discussions during Germany's presidency - which will start on 1 July - will be the budgetary negotiations for the multiannual 2021-2027 financial framework, Spahn added.
"Germany will help define the critical focus areas for health, one of which will be the fight against cancer," he said.
As these plans are "a lot" to tackle for a six-month presidency, Spahn is counting on "quickly finding like-minded people with whom [Germany] will advance and what [he] once called [a] Europe of pioneers" to guarantee the sustainability of the debate following Germany's presidency.
Focus on innovation, 'common data space'
Spahn said that it is important to create a "common data space" to "make Europe more attractive for research again".
"We could see during the pandemic how important it is to keep up globally in sciences and [the] economy, for which it is critical to provide attractive conditions - and research needs data," Spahn said.
"The issue of a common data space has mattered to us for some time now. We first need a code of conduct for Europe which companies, start-ups, patients and all stakeholders of the healthcare system can use reliably," Spahn added.
He pointed out that the framework of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) must be "adjusted" for the healthcare setting to guarantee competitiveness for digital companies and in research, "as the issue is not the regulation itself but that it is not clear how to interpret it".
Spahn explained that relocating manufacturing for critical drugs and protective equipment is crucial "to not depend exclusively on world trade".
"This will not work overnight, we are aware of that. However, it is our aim to become more independent from other nations in times of a crisis, and this means we must build up a European reserve," he said.