We’re already getting stuck into an eventful European year for health, with some exciting proposals heading our way. As the articles in this edition make clear, issues on the horizon aren’t short of controversy. The challenges for Europe’s decision-makers are unprecedented. Against the tumultuous background of global social, economic and political upheaval, Europe will have to set course for 2020 and beyond, and win back its credibility in the process.
After the year that the voters bit back, it doesn’t seem yet that politicians have learned any lessons. The race to the bottom – cutting taxes, cutting loopholes in environmental standards, cutting investment in health, cutting ties across borders, cutting back on human rights – was lost by almost everyone.
Rumour has it that the Commission plans to put the Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of their post-2020 vision. Considerably how pitifully un-seriously the SDGs have been taken so far, that’d take everyone by surprise.
Will the principles of international trade deals be reconsidered to put public interests first? Will Europe respond to the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks by finally pushing through tax justice measures? Will our agriculture and pharmaceutical policies go beyond industrial policy to deliver nutritious food and affordable medical innovation? Europe, as a region rich in education, science and ideas, has the most to gain from all of this and can only lose further from trying to run the race to the bottom.
We’ll find out very soon, with a White Paper from the European Commission on the Future of Europe coinciding in March with the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. It’s an opportunity to reassert European values and our true competitive advantage in our collective talents. Europe desperately needs to outline an inspiring vision of a brighter, inclusive and healthier future.