Everyday tales and stories from the border regions of Europe and beyond, with the aim of explaining why we border-crossers are as obsessed as we are about this subject, why it is important to all of us, and why the co-operation community needs a little bit more visibility than it normally gets.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Left hand, please meet right hand

Now, given the amount of money that the EU pumps into cross-border co-operation, you will not be surprised to learn that the Border Crosser thinks that the EU is a pretty decent type of organisation. However, sometimes the overwhelming bureaucracy and the sheer lack of connections between its policies drives you absolutely mad.

Here's the latest example. The Commission has just announced a "Renewed Social Agenda" which sounds very worthy indeed. Didn't know there was an old social agenda which needed renewing, but there you go. Anyway, among the list of items related to this announcement is a recommendation called "Cross-border Interoperability of Electronic Health Records

Firstly, let us set aside the fact that it is almost impossible to find this document on the Commission's website - it's not linked from the press release or the main social agenda page, or from DG Health (but I like you, so you can find it here: http://tinyurl.com/5agnnl). Secondly, let us ignore the very misleading use of the word "cross-border", as the document helpfully informs us that here cross-border means with neighbouring and non-neighbouring Member States. How can non-neighbouring Member States be cross-border? Is it that difficult to harmonise terminology?

Sorry, I was meant to be ignoring that. The recommendation relates how worthy it is to ensure this interoperability of health records to facilitate people getting treatment in other countries. Very true.
But is it not strange that there is no particular mention of the fact that this is already being done - in the true sense of the word cross-border - under INTERREG? To take but one example, the France-Wallonie-Vlaanderen programme has been working for many years on the co-ordination and integration of health services for their border population - see http://tinyurl.com/5fdeul and http://tinyurl.com/6ma3st for a couple of very impressive examples.

So why no mention? Are these not impressive enough? Do they not form a sufficient base for building a Europe-wide approach? Is there inter-DG rivalry about such projects? Or is it simply the case that whoever wrote the recommendation had never heard about what France and Belgium were doing with EU funds and never thought to ask? Hmmm, tricky, but I know which one my money's on.

1 comment:

euonym said...

Or could it be that someone in DG Regio was asleep at the switch when it went for inter-service consultation?