future biotechnology solutions, eu citizens
© Robert Gerhardt

After the Conference on the Future of Europe, 300 recommendations were made by citizens – including that future biotechnology solutions, like vaccines, are created using EU resources

A consultation that included hundreds of EU citizens has led to 49 proposals, containing over 300 recommendations for the future of the Union – including what to do about future biotechnology solutions, in the face of looming epidemics.

The proposals cover every policy subject, including healthcare and manufacturing

The overall response seems to indicate that citizens want their EU services and standards streamlined, to provide a better quality of life for everybody. While the bloc currently operates as a series of States banded together under a common partnership, if implemented, these recommendations would encourage more of a pan-European system.

The proposals cover everything from climate to migration, with various ideas drawn from citizens across all Member States. While some of them are already in motion, like the recommendation for a unified European Health Data Space which has the backing of the European Commission, other recommendations are bold and unprecedented.

Citizens want more access to key medicines for a fairer price, especially in reproductive and sexual health

For instance, citizens said that hormonal contraception should be taxed like a regular medical product – especially when it is used as a treatment for fibromyalgia and endometriosis. Contained in the same recommendation, people think that female sanitary products should also be released from any excess taxing, as they are also functioning as a medical product.

As communities reel from the leaked document that suggests the US will outlaw abortion rights protected by Roe V. Wade, countries across the world are looking to their own systems of access to reproductive healthcare.

Citizens also want future biotechnology solutions to be independent of “third countries”

Then, under the proposal of bolstering the resilience of EU health systems, citizens also recommended that the bloc should ensure “strategic autonomy at EU level to avoid dependency on third countries for medicines”.

Specifically, people want future “biotechnology solutions” to rely on existing EU agencies, so they will be more likely to be available for Member States – with the further suggestion that “strategic stockpiling” of medicines and treatments should be part of how healthcare works.

This sentiment is clearly linked to the experience of the EU with Pfizer, when at one point during the pandemic, the biotechnology company delivered a fraction of the COVID vaccines expected. This led to a public rift between Pfizer CEO and European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen.

To tie these changes in, the citizens recommend that Article 4 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is amended to make healthcare one of the shared competencies between Members and the EU itself.

This seems unlikely to happen, as a document suggests that treaty change would be opposed by one third of EU countries.

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