Meeting with the Vice-President of the European Commission and responsible for the Promotion of the European Way of Life, Mr. Margaritis Schinas



Meeting with the Vice-President of the European Commission and responsible for the Promotion of the European Way of Life, Mr. Margaritis Schinas


Athens, March 29 2021.– On Friday, March 26th, 2021, SfEE and the Directors General of 45 member companies had the opportunity to meet online with the Vice President of the European Commission for the Promotion of the European Way of Life, Mr. Margaritis Schinas in a fruitful discussion.

During his welcome remarks, Olympios Papadimitriou, SfEE President, stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War II.  As he said, the pandemic is much more than a health crisis. It is also an unprecedented socio-economic crisis creating devastating social, economic and political effects. He also noted, that since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the pharmaceutical industry has focused on the research for new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments to help in the fight against the COVID-19, whilst supporting governments and health systems on the ground and ensuring continuous supply of medicines to the patients that need them. Mr. Papadimitriou welcomed the European Pharmaceutical Strategy and he outbid the need to create a High-Level Forum on Access to Innovation with the participation of all key stakeholders, to develop flexible and collaborative models to solve access and shortages issues. Closing, he noted that the Greek pharmaceutical sector was at the centre of cost-containment policies in the years of crisis, whereas the partial implementation of structural reforms in health care sector has made the need for predictability and stability more essential than ever. He concluded that the pharma sector in Greece, both locally and internationally, has a significant potential for growth and it is an integral part of the health care system. Introducing stability and  predictability would allow the full potential of the pharma sector to be deployed whereby both healthcare system and national economy would benefit. An important topic would be how the European recovery funds could provide support in this area.

The EC Vice-President, Mr. Margaritis Schinas elaborated on three main themes:

  1. a) the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic,
  2. b) the urgent need for a genuine European Health Union to improve the collective response to cross-border health crises going forward and better protect the health of Europeans,
  3. c) the future of European pharmaceutical policy based on the recent Pharmaceutical Strategy adopted by the Commission.

Mr. Schinas, stressed that the pandemic crisis brought about the need to secure and protect Europeans beyond borders and the need to work closer together stressing that «more Europe» and closer collaboration is needed. To fight the COVID-19 pandemic and future health emergencies, he continued, more coordination with more efficient tools at EU level is the only way forward, like the recent EU Vaccines Strategy and the Recovery Plan for Europe. The European Commission, he noted, focuses on crisis preparedness and response measures such as strengthening coordination at EU-level when facing cross-border health threats. In addition, referring to the European Pharmaceutical Strategy, he mentioned that it aims to modernise the regulatory framework and support research and technologies that reach patients, as well as to strengthen prevention. The Vice-President also highlighted that Europe should work on its strategic autonomy, so that it never faces shortages of medicines and vital equipment again, while at the same time maintaining its openness. In addition, the Vice President referred to the ambitious European Beating Cancer Plan which is opening a new era in cancer prevention and care, stressing that the success of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan requires engagement and buy-in from a wide range of sectors and stakeholders. In his closing remarks, Mr. Schinas gave detailed insight into the unprecedented support that Greece will receive from the European Commission through the NextGenerationEU, in particular the Recovery and Resilience Facility, and the EU4Health Programme to strengthen its economic recovery and healthcare system.

Following Mr. Schinas speech, during a Q&A session with the Directors General took place, topics like the ways Greek pharma industry can foster innovation, attract EU funds and become a more sound stakeholder in EU, were discussed.