EUHealthGov at UACES 2023

EUhealthgov |

EUHealthGov is delighted to have been involved in this week’s annual conference of the University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES). We have hosted three panels at the event at Queen’s University Belfast on 4, 5 and 6 September. 

On Monday morning, we gathered for a panel on EU governance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mina Hosseini (University College Dublin, Ireland), introduced an evaluation of the EU’s use of advance purchase agreements (APAs) to procure COVID-19 vaccines. Utilising the lens of competition law, Mina’s work explores challenges to transparency and accountability in the APA process, and how the EU might use its wider Vaccine Strategy to address such challenges in future. Our second presenter, Francis Jacobs (also UCD), presented a paper on how the European Parliament responded, in its day-to-day functioning, to the challenges presented by the pandemic. This work explores how the Parliament adapted its rules of procedure and working methods to enable it to keep its legislative agenda moving, and how it is contributing to debates on how to increase the resilience of institutions. 

On Tuesday morning, we turned our attention to the European Health Union (EHU). Louise Bengtsson (Swedish Defence University, Sweden) opened the panel with her work on the securitisation of EU global health policy. Comparing the new global health initiatives published by the Commission as part of the EHU with the older, existing elements of EU global health policy, Louise’s work explores a shift in narrative framing and underlying logic. Next, Georgiana Ciceo (Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania) presented a paper that uses the experimentalist governance framework to assess changes in the EU’s cross border health threats legislation within the EHU. Georgiana argues that the EU has been able to expand its authority in public health by amending the high level goals and iterative feedback stages of the governance process in cross border threats. Finally, Mary Guy (Liverpool John Moores University, UK) introduced a new project mapping solidarity in European healthcare. In this panel Mary focused on the role and place of solidarity within the EU’s response to COVID-19, arguing that there remains potential for solidarity logics to inform the development of EU vaccine policy, fiscal governance and the EHU. 

On Wednesday morning, for our final panel, we gathered to discuss law-making and legislation in EU health governance. Hannah van Kolfschooten (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands) presented a paper on the EU’s artificial intelligence (AI) legislation and its less-known implications for third countries. Drawing on a concept of ‘data colonialism’ and a comparison to clinical trials legislation, Hannah outlined some of the wider impacts of EU law and offered some early thoughts on how the EU might act to take account of these impacts. Second, Eleanor Brooks (University of Edinburgh, UK) presented a paper on the role of stakeholder consultation in the EU policy process. Using a case study from EU pharmaceutical law, Eleanor’s work examines the existence of participation bias in the consultation process, and explores the challenges in identifying, measuring and analysing such bias. Finally, Katrina Perehudoff (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands) introduced a new project exploring the EU’s responsibilities towards low and middle income countries in the area of pharmaceuticals. Drawing inspiration from across international, EU and national legal frameworks, Katrina’s work seeks to develop a framework for EU action on global access to medicines, exploring the potential for positive duties towards health beyond the EU’s territorial borders. 

Between and across panels, we’ve had fruitful discussions about the scope and future of the EHU, the EU’s role in global health governance, and the potential of its legal frameworks to contribute to health equity. With thanks to all of our presenters, chairs, discussants and audience participants, as well to UACES for the invitation and financial support. Here’s looking forward to #UACES2024!