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European Commission publishes Ecorys report on cross border health services

On June 9th 2017, the European Commission (DG Sante) published the final report of the study on cross-border health services: potential obstacles for healthcare providers. This study was conducted by the consortium of Ecorys, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Spark Legal Network and Consultancy Ltd. 
 
 
 
EU Institutions and Member States are increasingly faced with the question of how to apply the principles of free movement of health services in practice as they are fundamental for both, healthcare providers and patients. Healthcare professions are highly regulated at national level EU legislation aims to facilitate the provision of cross-border health services, but nevertheless, in practice, healthcare professionals still face different (potential) obstacles. 
 
Objectives & approach
This study examines the free movement of healthcare providers in practice through specific examples in national contexts. It aimed to identify the different requirements placed on healthcare providers wishing to either establish themselves in another Member State, or provide cross-border services in one Member State whilst being established in another. The study has three objectives: 
1. To identify specific and cross-sectorial national requirements for healthcare providers, when providing cross-border health services; 
2. To identify the main barriers to delivering cross-border health services by considering how the requirements apply in practice;
3. To provide an estimation of the amount of resources necessary to invest as a healthcare provider in order to comply with the different requirements. 
 
Findings
The study concludes that the requirements that only apply to cross-border providers (in this study referred to as “additional requirements”) mainly concern requirements relating to individual medical professionals: recognition of qualifications, language requirements, and additional requirements upon registration with regulatory bodies (e.g. additional supporting documents and certified translations). The fact that a requirement is referred to as an additional requirement for cross-border providers does not mean that it is not proportional or without good reason (e.g. to protect patient safety). Requirements relating to the place of work and public funding coverage typically apply equally to all providers, e.g. national and cross-border. 
The fact that a requirement is referred to as an additional requirement does not mean that it is not proportional or without good reason (e.g. to protect patient safety).   
Furthermore,  the analysis  shows that cross-border healthcare providers may face obstacles - partially because of the additional requirements- when they wish to provide cross-border services. These obstacles include: language requirements, high costs associated with providing the required supporting documents (particularly certified translations of these documents), and unfamiliarity with the specifics of the healthcare system in a Member State (causing practical obstacles, which are even bigger in a decentralised healthcare system). 
 
The study report can be accessed here.
 
For further Information please contact:
Kim Weistra
T: +31 6 39206545