EU Health Union and State Aid Policy: With Great (er) Power Comes Great Responsibility
Forthcoming, European Journal of Risk Regulation
11 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2020
Date Written: October 1, 2020
This contribution evaluates whether EU State aid policy could play a role in achieving deeper and more solidary integration in the area of public health. According to article 107 TFEU the powers of the Member States to grant aid to help their economy are seriously limited. Exceptions to the general prohibition to grant State aid are authorized by the European Commission which enjoys a wide discretion in weighing national objectives against European integration goals. The area of public health has been shielded from the application of these rules, with activities such as the provision of health insurance failing to be considered of economic nature (see most recently the Dovera judgment). The COVID-19 experience shows that, in case of major health crises, State aid provisions are practically suspended, with interventions allowed in the name of the fight against the pandemic. The eventual creation of a Health Union will require the re-evaluation of the application of the State aid rules to healthcare. This paper questions whether these rules should evolve as a reflective function of strengthened competences in healthcare, or whether existing regulatory powers are enough to determine the interaction between national spending policies, a solidary European Health Union and fair competition.
Keywords: COVID-19, State aid, European Union, Health Union
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