EU Health: From pandemic crisis management to a European Health Union?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The COVID-19 pandemic called for a coordinated European response to address the unprecedented global threat to Europe's health. The European Union in the past fifteen years designed multiple measures and programmes to prepare for such an event. It took action in a range of policy areas such as setting up the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, establishing rules for the joint procurement of medical countermeasures, and strengthening intergovernmental committees to facilitate improved coordination and consultation. Yet when the pandemic struck, many elements of the health security governance regime did not function effectively. In retrospect, the Union's numerous measures and decisions were nonbinding and were overly reliant on non-mandatory cooperation and coordination. In the early phase of the pandemic, most member states focused on protecting their citizens and ignored collective preparedness and response capacity. This chapter reviews the evolution of EU public health and examines the measures taken to protect the member states from cross-border threats to health. The chapter concludes by exploring the possibilities of creating a genuine European health union in the aftermath of the COVID-19 global health emergency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe EU under Strain?
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Crises Shaping European Union Politics
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783110790337
ISBN (Print)9783110790252
StatePublished - Jun 6 2023


  • Article 168 TFEU
  • COVID-19
  • European Centre for Disease Control
  • European Health Union
  • Politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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