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Press Release
Mars Di Bartolomeo: Health services "should not to be regarded as market services"

Date of release : 08-04-2005

Policy area : Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs

Mars Di Bartolomeo: Health services "should not to be regarded as market services"

During the Luxembourg Presidency of the European Union, the Ministry of Social Security organised a conference in collaboration with the Luxembourg association of social security bodies (aloss), the Higher Council of Luxembourg’s mutual health funds (CSML), and the International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies (AIM) on "Access to health care in a single market", which analysed "the Impact on statutory and complementary systems". The conference was held at the Hémicycle conference centre in Luxembourg-Kirchberg on 8 April 2005. It was opened by the Minister for Health and Social Security, Mr Mars Di Bartolomeo.

The Minister insisted on the fact that in the area of health and social security, services should not to be regarded as market services; they are different in that they need to meet other demands such as free access, quality and solidarity.

300 delegates from 20 countries took part in the conference, representing government delegations, European Institutions, the European Parliament, academics and actors from the health and social sector.

The aim of the conference was to present a clear picture of the impact existing or pending Community law will have on health care and social protection.

Although the European Council of 22 and 23 March decided to remodel the proposed directive on services in the internal market (Bolkestein directive), the issue remains problematic in as much as the project aims partly to codify the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice in terms of patient mobility, which is guaranteed by the EC Treaty.

The conference was organised around three sessions which dealt respectively with:

- the free movement of patients and health professionals, from, on the one hand, the perspective of financial responsibility for health care given in another Member State, and, on the other hand, the possibility for a health care service provider established in a Member State to supply services in another Member State;

- the relation between competition laws and health care in the case where social security institutions exercise an economic activity;

- the possibility to classify health care as “social services of general interest" so as to exclude it from the field of application of competition laws.

The conference was based on a report drawn up by Professor Yves Jorens of the University of Gent, and can be consulted on the Internet site of the Ministry of Social Security at:

This page was last modified on : 08-04-2005

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