The government has published its report of the balance of EU competences in health, finding that the EU has an overall positive role and that the EU has the right balance of power with the UK.
In Europe some laws and policy areas are the responsibility of the EU and some are in the control of individual Member States. These areas are called competences. The government has launched a review to assess the balance of EU and UK-held competences in different areas, exploring whether this is the right balance, how it operates and whether it can be improved. The review is examining 32 areas over four reports, known as semesters, which will be completed by the autumn of 2014 and will inform any negotiations the government has with the EU over these powers.
What did the health report say about research?
Sections focusing on health research start on pages 57 and 73.
In its assessment of the effect of EU policies on UK health research the report finds that the EU has an overall positive role and that the EU has the right balance of power with the UK. Echoing points we made in our evidence, it notes that the EU supports collaboration, that EU-wide harmonising of regulation can be beneficial (when legislation is got right) and that the EU is a welcome source of funding – the UK attracted €570 of EU funds for health research in the FP7 research funding programme, making it the largest beneficiary with 17% of the total available.
It also draws attention to the need to ensure the Data Protection Regulation currently going through the European Parliament does not adversely affect research – we held a workshop recently in Brussels for non-profit research funders where concerns were raised about this (Wellcome’s joint statement, which we are signatories to, has more information on the Regulation if you're interested). And problems of unnecessary bureaucracy is also highlighted.
Maximising the benefits of research and better implementation of EU legislation were identified in the report as areas where the UK government could focus on. You can read the evidence we submitted to the Department of Health here.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills is currently reviewing the balance of EU competences in research and innovation. We will be responding, if you would like to feed into what we say take a look at this previous post and get in contact with me.
We are also running a workshop on funding opportunities in the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme on 3 December, details can be found here.