European Commission President-elect, Ms Ursula von der Leyen, is ready, willing, and able to work with her new team of 26 Commissioners-designate , once the European Parliament gives its consent to the slate. Their start date of work will be 1 November, 2019. There are clearly a busy six weeks of preparation ahead!
To give EHTEL members a flavour of the three new Commissioners-designate whose work is likely to have considerable influence over the areas of digital that are transforming health and care in Europe, here are some insights.
It now feels like the “European e-health area” first hinted at in 2004 is coming to fruition.
On 10 September 2019, each Commissioner-designate received a letter from the President-elect laying out what will be their key assignments.
EHTEL has selected a few highpoints from each of three Commissioners’ provisional portfolios.
Overall, it is exciting to see leadership for a “Europe fit for the digital age”.
Margrethe VESTAGER of Denmark has become immensely well-known in recent years for her championing of the digital cause. She will have responsibility for Europe to fully grasp the potential of the digital age and strengthen its industry and innovation capacity.
Over the first 100 days of the new Commission, Ms VESTAGER will:
“coordinate the work on a European approach on artificial intelligence, including its human and ethical implications. This should also look at how we can use and share non-personalised big data to develop new technologies and business models that create wealth for our societies and our businesses.”
Things should move fast until the end of February 2020 therefore!
Coordination will surely occur in the field of competition among fields of activity such as the internal market, health, innovation and youth, transport, and justice. Europe needs to focus on its strengths and be aware of the challenges brought by major international companies and industry players.
▶As a result, EHTEL’s 2019 Symposium, with its core focus on artificial intelligence and data is being held at a critically important period in the development of this European approach. It is clearly crucial for us all to become AI-literate!
Sylvie GOULARD of France, former member of the European Parliament, will be responsible for Europe’s Internal Market. Under her belt, will be the activities of the Directorate-General on Communications, Networks, Content and Technology. She will have three key mandates. Of considerable importance will be the digital economy and society where, as part of this, she will:
“lead the work on a coordinated European approach on artificial intelligence and on the new Digital Services Act.”
Other important technologies mentioned are blockchain, high-performance computing, algorithms, data-sharing and data use, as well as standards for mobile (5G) networks and new-generation technologies.
▶EHTEL’s objective is to work with other stakeholders to enable health and care systems in Europe to obtain the best added-value from these future-facing technologies.
Stella KYRIAKIDES of Cyprus, as Commissioner-elect for Health, will carry responsibility for protecting and promoting public health. This will involve six key tasks. One of them is to make the most of using the potential of eHealth to provide high-quality healthcare and reduce inequalities. It is evident that data is taking on an even more important profile.
By sharing data and exchanging data, improved research can take place in a wide variety of health fields. Purely as examples, we can envisage improved knowledge about how health and care systems function and how they face growing public health challenges: e.g., chronic conditions, infectious diseases, or the natural effects of ageing throughout the life-course. Associated with this sharing of data is good personal or individual control of one’s own health data.
There will be a:
“European Health Data Space to promote health-data exchange and support research on new preventive strategies, as well as on treatments, medicines, medical devices and outcomes. As part of this, […] citizens [should] have control over their own personal data.”
▶From an EHTEL perspective, this health data space should enable more effective and meaningful exchange of health and care data whether for research or more applied purposes. Digital health and digital care should enlarge their impact in helping people maintain more effective control of their own health and care data
To sum up:
From the messages emerging, we can see that there will be great teamwork and collaboration among the College of Commissioners in response to the needs of the people of Europe and, at the time, its industry and markets especially – as examples – the fields of digital health and digital care.
As European strategies and planning shape up in the digital age, EHTEL aims to keep our members informed of next steps and developments in the field of digital.
To read more about EHTEL’s past opinions on European policies on digital technologies related to health and care, see:
EHTEL Community Position Paper on interoperable records and EHTEL Community Position Paper on Digital Health