The pandemic situation affected everything in the world, EU policies are included. The May 2018 European Commission (EC) proposals for 2021-2027 period included actual EU budget figures for developments, among others, in innovation, medical technology, economy. Following that, the end of 2019 brought an unexpected change into our lives: the COVID-19 disease. European citizens had to face many health issues, restrictions and obstacles in everyday life because of the virus. Therefore, in May 2020 the EC had to revise the financial framework and goals to solve the current situation which lasts up to now. As a complex solution, they accepted the recovery plan.
South Transdanubian Regional Innovation Agency (STRIA) has reviewed the EC proposals, in comparison with the professional recommendations elaborated during the implementation of the Medtech4 Europe (M4E) Interreg Europe project.
The recovery plan has a budget of 1.8 trillion EUR to rebuild the post-COVID Europe. The long-term nature of this budget plays a key role to support the post-pandemic recovery, therefore the funds are committed in the Multiannual Financial Framework and the NextGenerationEU temporary restoration instrument.
The main elements of the recovery plan are as follows:
- research and innovation (RI), via HORIZON Europe,
- fair climate and digital transitions, via the Just Transition Fund and the Digital Europe Programme,
- preparedness, recovery and resilience, via the Recovery and Resilience Facility, rescEU and a new health programme, EU4Health,
- modernising traditional policies such as cohesion and the common agricultural policy, to maximise their contribution to the European Union’s priorities,
- fighting climate change, with 30% of the EU funds, the highest share ever of that within the European budget,
- biodiversity protection and gender equality.
RI, recovery and resilience have decisive role in this package. The fact that HORIZON Europe received additional 4 billion EUR or EU4Health received 3,4 billion EUR prove the importance of the concerned programmes.
Two policy recommendations of M4E are directly linked to these proposals. These are the following:
- the connection/continuous learning among European medical technology actors is vital,
- and innovation in medical technology (as the same phenomenon is perceived in health technologies) is developing at an unprecedented pace with the COVID-19 outbreak.
These M4E recommendations can become reality thanks to the financial support provided by EC within the context of rebuilding Europe in the post-pandemic years. As a consequence, the COVID-19 virus had indirect positive impacts on EC policies, the field of medical technology included. Alike, the proposals of the M4E project and of the EC are in accordance with each other.
The Medtech4 Europe project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Hungary within the Interreg Europe Programme.