Time to tune into Europe

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39105.430058.59 (Published 25 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:185
  1. Tessa Richards, associate editor, BMJ (trichards@bmj.com)

    Clarifing the legal framework for cross border care is in everyone's interests

    Romania and Bulgaria celebrated their debut into the European Union with fireworks. Britain greeted their accession with newspaper features warning of labour markets being swamped by yet more eastern Europeans, doctors and nurses among them, of course. Nothing surprising there—Britain has honed Euroscepticism into an art form. What it has arguably been less good at, not least in the health arena, is interacting constructively with the Brussels institutions. Their processes may be Byzantine, but understanding them is necessary to influence their decisions.

    Admittedly it has not been easy. Until recently the EU has consistently stated that health services were a matter for national governments. As a result, few health professionals anticipated how the medical landscape would be changed by EU legislation enshrining the right to free movement of goods, services, and people. Fewer still foresaw the massive revolution that the “48 hour” European Working Time Directive would trigger.

    But there is still plenty to play for. Health has risen up the EU's political agenda. The appointment of a commissioner for …

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