Health Policy Insights

The EU elections and the next five years of healthcare

The next elections to the European Parliament will be held in May 2019. EU citizens will vote in their respective constituencies to choose their future Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). But why are EU elections so significant and how can the European Union build a healthier future for European citizens?

Background to the 2019 EU elections

EU elections are important since a high proportion of national laws originate from Brussels and hence have a direct impact on EU citizens. Currently, there are 751 MEPs that represent over 500 million citizens[1]. However, following the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union, the number of MEPs elected in the 2019 elections will be reduced to 705[2].


Giving citizens more power to influence via the Spitzenkandidat process

The elections in 2019 will be the second time the so-called lead candidate – or Spitzenkandidat – process is implemented. The process gives EU citizens a voice in the appointment of the President of the European Commission. Each political group in the European Parliament selects one lead candidate who will assume the position of President should their group receive the most seats in the parliamentary elections.


This process was first introduced in 2014 to give the position of European Commission President more democratic legitimacy by linking the appointment of President directly to the votes of EU citizens. The European Commission is a key part of the EU, helping to shape overall strategy, proposes and enforces European legislation as well as implementing EU policy.[3]


Supporting an ambitious healthcare agenda

In the run up to the EU elections The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) released its manifesto which outlines the pharmaceutical industry’s vision in Europe for the next five years and is linked to three key areas:

  1. Bringing innovative health solutions to all patients
  2. Making the EU a world leader in research and development
  3. Being stronger together, joining forces to fast track results


The EFPIA manifesto details the pharmaceutical industry’s expectations for the future of healthcare in the EU. Smart sectorial policies coupled with a pro-innovation environment will be vital to strengthen the EU’s global reputation for outstanding R&D and innovation.


We’ll be following the run up to EU elections here on our Health Policy Blog so check back periodically for more in-depth insights on our vision for healthcare over the next five years.



[1] European Union, The European Parliament: The citizen’s voice in the EU, A short guide to the European Parliament; Last accessed October 2018

[2] European Parliament, News: Number of MEPs to be reduced after EU elections in 2019; Last accessed October 2018

[3] European Movement Ireland, “All EU Need to Know”: Spitzenkandidat explained; Last accessed October 2018

Alex Gibbs
Published: 29 Oct 2018
3 min read