Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Arbetsrapport,
Institute for Futures Studies

No 2009:13: Towards common European health policies: what are the implications for the Nordic countries?

Paula Blomqvist () and Jakob Larsson ()
Additional contact information
Paula Blomqvist: Uppsala University, Department of Government, Postal: Uppsala University, Department of Government, Box 514, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Jakob Larsson: Institute for Futures Studies, Postal: Institute for Futures Studies, Box 591, SE-101 31 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Health care is an area that remains formally outside the competence of the EU. Despite this, the union’s influence on national health care policies has increased substantially over the past decade. In a series of rulings, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) established a de facto system of patient rights, which, under certain conditions, entitle European citizens to receive health care in other member states at the expense of the social insurance system of their home country. This undermines the autonomy of the member states in the area of health, a key sector in national welfare systems. In 2008, the Commission proposed a new directive on patients’ rights which builds directly on the ECJ rulings, thus consolidating politically the legal precedent set by the Court. The ECJ Court rulings have also spurred the initiation of a so-called OMC process in the area of health care, whereby the member states commit themselves to policy harmonization on a voluntary basis. In this paper, we review the contents of emerging EU policies in the area of health and discuss their implications for the Nordic health care systems. A central question is whether any coherent, common European policy may be discerned and, if so, how it will affect health care systems of the Nordic type, which are tax-based and universalistic in orientation?

Keywords: European Union; Health care; European Court of Justice; Open Method of Coordination

JEL-codes: I11; I18

35 pages, August 19, 2009

Price: 25 SEK

Note: ISSN: 1652-120X; ISBN: 978-91-85619-52-8

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