Joint statement on behalf of President Juncker and Prime Minister May
Brussels, 7 February 2019
President Juncker and Prime Minister May have met today to review the next steps in the UK's withdrawal from the EU.
The talks were held in a spirit of working together to achieve the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU, especially in the context of a shared determination to achieve a strong partnership for the future given the global challenges the EU and the UK face together in upholding open and fair trade, cooperation in the fight against climate change and terrorism and defending the rules-based international system.
The Prime Minister described the context in the UK Parliament, and the motivation behind last week's vote in the House of Commons seeking a legally binding change to the terms of the backstop. She raised various options for dealing with these concerns in the context of the Withdrawal Agreement in line with her commitments to the Parliament.
President Juncker underlined that the EU27 will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, which represents a carefully balanced compromise between the European Union and the UK, in which both sides have made significant concessions to arrive at a deal. President Juncker however expressed his openness to add wording to the Political Declaration agreed by the EU27 and the UK in order to be more ambitious in terms of content and speed when it comes to the future relationship between the European Union and the UK. President Juncker drew attention to the fact that any solution would have to be agreed by the European Parliament and the EU27.
The discussion was robust but constructive. Despite the challenges, the two leaders agreed that their teams should hold talks as to whether a way through can be found that would gain the broadest possible support in the UK Parliament and respect the guidelines agreed by the European Council. The Prime Minister and the President will meet again before the end of February to take stock of these discussions.
STATEMENT/19/903 Copyright European Union
Joint statement by Jean-Claude Juncker and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Brussels, 6 February 2019
The Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration have been negotiated in good faith and have been agreed by all 27 Leaders of the European Union Member States as well as by the United Kingdom Government.
As we have said on many occasions, the Withdrawal Agreement is the best and only deal possible. It is not open for renegotiation.
The backstop is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement. While we hope the backstop will not need to be used, it is a necessary legal guarantee to protect peace and to ensure there will be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland, while protecting the integrity of our Single Market and the Customs Union.
The Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, is a balanced compromise, representing a good outcome for citizens and businesses on all sides, including in Northern Ireland.
The backstop is not a bilateral issue, but a European one. Ireland's border is also the border of the European Union and its market is part of the Single Market. We will stay united on this matter.
We will continue to seek agreement on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom but we will also step up our preparation for a no-deal scenario. In this context, programmes that provide support for cross-border peace and reconciliation in the border counties of Ireland and Northern Ireland will be continued and strengthened. The Commission stands ready to support Ireland in finding solutions answering the specific challenges that Ireland and Irish citizens, farmers and businesses will face. We will work closely together to this end over the coming weeks.
We will continue to remind the Government of the United Kingdom of its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement, with or without a deal.
STATEMENT/19/884 Copyright European Union
There are 50 days left until the UK's exit from the European Union, following the decision and the will of the UK authorities. I know that still a very great number of people in the UK, and on the continent, as well as in Ireland, wish for a reversal of this decision. I have always been with you, with all my heart. But the facts are unmistakable. At the moment, the pro-Brexit stance of the UK Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition, rules out this question. Today, there is no political force and no effective leadership for remain. I say this without satisfaction, but you can't argue with the facts.
Remarks by Donald Tusk following his meeting with Leo Varadkar
Today our most important task is to prevent a no deal scenario. I would, once again, like to stress that the position of the EU27 is clear, as expressed in the documents agreed with the UK government – that is the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration – and the EU27 is not making any new offer. Let me recall that the December European Council decided that the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation. I hope that tomorrow we will hear from Prime Minister May a realistic suggestion on how to end the impasse, in which the process of the orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU has found itself, following the latest votes in the House of Commons.
The top priority for us, remains the issue of the border on the island of Ireland, and the guarantee to maintain the peace process in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement. There is no room for speculation here. The EU itself is first and foremost a peace project. We will not gamble with peace; or put a sell-by date on reconciliation. And this is why we insist on the backstop. Give us a believable guarantee for peace in Northern Ireland, and the UK will leave the EU as a trusted friend. I hope that the UK government will present ideas that will both respect this point of view and, at the same time, command a stable and clear majority in the House of Commons. I strongly believe that a common solution is possible, and I will do everything in my power to find it.
A sense of responsibility also tells us to prepare for a possible fiasco. The Taoiseach and I have spoken about the necessary actions in case of no deal; I know that you will also be discussing this shortly with the European Commission.
By the way, I've been wondering what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely. Thank you.
Copyright European Union
If anyone wants detailed and further information regarding the legal and practical effects of no deal, particularly on businesses then they may find it help to go to the European Commissions Brexit Preparedness website which is available at https://ec.europa.eu/info/brexit/brexit-preparedness_en
The Brexit preparedness notices are available at https://ec.europa.eu/info/brexit/brexit-preparedness/preparedness-notices_en
Details of legislative inititatives are available at https://ec.europa.eu/info/brexit/brexit-preparedness/legislative-initiatives-and-other-legal-acts_en
Details of the European Commissions contingency planning for no deal and other initiatives is available at https://ec.europa.eu/info/brexit/brexit-preparedness/other-preparedness-activities_en
Commission makes it easier for citizens to access health data securely across borders
Brussels, 6 February 2019
Today the Commission presents a set of recommendations for the creation of a secure system that will enable citizens to access their electronic health files across Member States.
Currently the ability of European citizens to access their electronic medical records across the EU greatly varies from one country to another. Although some citizens can access part of their electronic health records at national level or across borders, many others have limited digital access or no access at all. For this reason the Commission is today making recommendations that will facilitate access across borders that is secure and in full compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation.
Vice-President Andrus Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, stated "People ask for secure and complete online access to their own health data, wherever they are. Healthcare professionals need reliable health records to give better informed and faster treatment. Our health systems need the best resources for the best personalised care. Together, we need to speed up and develop the secure exchange of electronic health records across the EU. It will improve life for citizens and help innovators find the next generation of digital solutions and medical treatments.”
Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis in charge of Health and Food Safety, added: “How many of us, when travelling or relocating to another Member State, have wished we could access to our own medical data and share them with a local General Practitioner? Moreover, being able to securely share medical information with doctors abroad has the potential not only to substantially improve the quality of care we receive but also to have a positive effect on healthcare budgets. It is less likely that expensive medical tests, such as imaging or laboratory analyses, would need to be repeated.”
Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, in charge of Digital Economy and Society, added: "As part of our efforts to provide EU citizens access to safe and top quality digital services, today's initiative will help patients get their treatment wherever they are in the EU, including in emergency situations. The proposed EU framework for an electronic health record exchange will also allow doctors and other medical practitioners to assist citizens more efficiently and effectively."
Member States have already started to make some parts of electronic health records accessible and exchangeable across borders. Since 21 January 2019, Finnish citizens can buy medicines using their ePrescriptions in Estonia and Luxembourgish doctors will be soon able to access the patient summaries of Czech patients.
Today's recommendations propose that Member States extend this work to three new areas of the health record, namely to laboratory tests, medical discharge reports and images and imaging reports. In parallel, the initiative paves the way for development of the technical specifications to be used to exchange health records in each case.
As a result, access to complete and personal health records across the EU can offer immense benefits to European citizens, such as the following:
- If someone has an accident while travelling in another EU Member State, doctors will have immediate access to information about the patient (e.g. details of chronic conditions, allergies or intolerances to certain medications). This can significantly increase their ability to provide the most effective and timely treatment.
- Increasing the quality and ensure continuity of care for citizens as they move around the EU.
- Boosting medical research into major health challenges such as chronic and neurodegenerative diseases, by easing the sharing of data. This is subject to the citizen's consent, in a meaningful manner and in full compliance with European data protection rules.
- Supporting the efficiency and sustainability of health systems by, for instance, sharing patient's recent laboratory or radiology tests of a patient. In this manner, a hospital in another Member State will not need to repeat similar tests, saving time and reducing hospital costs.
To further develop this exchange of information, a Joint Coordination Process between the Commission and the Member States will be set up. This will allow for contributions and input from stakeholders such as industry representatives, health professionals and patients representatives at both EU and national level.
The Joint Coordination Process will ensure that all the relevant parties are involved in the process of developing the European Electronic Health Records (EHR) exchange format. The Member States, within the eHealth Network, will establish practical guidelines for the implementation and monitoring of its progress.
The Communication on enabling the digital transformation of health and care in the Digital Single market, adopted in April 2018, identified three areas for action:
(1) Citizens' secure access to and sharing of health data across borders;
(2) Better data to advance research, disease prevention and personalised health and care;
(3) Digital tools for citizen empowerment and person-centred care.
In addition to Finland, Estonia, Luxembourg and Czech Republic, 18 countries are expected to exchange patient summaries and e-prescriptions by the end of 2021. Supported by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Telecom programme, many Member States are already working on an eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure within the eHealth Network.
The recommendation supports Member States to take these exchanges further. It builds on patient summaries and e-prescriptions/e-dispensation exchanges and proposes specifications for new use cases, such as laboratory results, medical imaging and reports and hospital discharge reports, in the first phase. The Recommendation underlines that moving towards interoperable Electronic Health Records in the EU should go hand in hand with ensuring data protection and security, in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and in full compliance with the cybersecurity framework.
Related to this EU action, a revised Implementing Decision on providing the rules for the establishment, the management and the functioning of the network of national authorities responsible for eHealth (2011/890/EU) is also in preparation. The Decision aims to clarify the functioning of the eHealth Network, in particular in relation to the eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure. The call for feedback process closed today. The Commission will process the input received from stakeholders and will release the results within the coming months.
For More Information
Commission Recommendation on a European electronic Health Record exchange format
Questions and Answers
Infographic Impact of European Exchange format of Electronic Health Records
More information on the Recommendation
Digital Economy and Society Index Report 2018 – Digital Public Services
Special Eurobarometer 460: Attitudes towards the impact of digitisation and automation on daily life
Electronic cross-border health services
IP/19/842 - Copyright European Union