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European Union Politics

European Union Politics (7th edn)

Michelle Cini and Nieves Pérez-Solórzano Borragán
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date: 29 September 2023

28. COVID-19 and EU Health Policylocked

28. COVID-19 and EU Health Policylocked

  • Eleanor Brooks,
  • Sarah Rozenblum,
  • Scott L. Greer
  •  and Anniek de Ruijter


This chapter explores the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the EU’s health policy. Health is an area where member states have historically been reluctant to cede powers. Consequently, the EU’s treaty competences in health are limited. The chapter introduces the extent and parameters of the EU’s role and the resulting patchwork of health policy and law which exists at European level. When COVID-19 emerged, the EU could not offer a comprehensive response, although the scale of the emergency put pressure on norms of solidarity and free movement. The chapter reviews the EU’s response within six different areas of (health and non-health) policy, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the EU’s efforts to fight and mitigate the pandemic using the public health, internal market, and fiscal governance dimensions of its health powers before discussing the implications of the pandemic and the EU’s response.

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