Today’s ESPCO Council meeting provided an informative update on the progress of numerous health-related files and saw the adoption of the Slovenian Presidency Council Conclusions on ’Strengthening the European Health Union’. The discussions focused, among others, on the EU response to the pandemic and the Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe, as well as Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. 
The Covid-19 pandemic revealed several weaknesses in Europe’s capacity to respond to a public health crisis of this magnitude and to ensure sufficient coordination and evidence-based decision-making at all levels to effectively combat the pandemic and its consequences. While ad-hoc solutions were eventually found, HERA, the Council Regulation on the emergency framework regarding medical countermeasures, and Health Union Regulations are important steps to putting Europe on the front foot in addressing global health threats.  
EFPIA and FarmaForum understand the concern caused by the emergence of Covid-19 variants and we are committed to working with the scientific community, and public health and regulatory bodies around the world, to continue to bring together our experience and expertise. In this respect, we call on the EU institutions to ensure that incentives for companies to continue research into new variants, new diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines to tackle Covid-19 are maintained, at the EU as well as the global level. 
EFPIA and FarmaForum welcome the Council Conclusions on Strengthening the European Health Union. We share the goal of making new treatments available and accessible to all patients in the EU that need them and emphasise that streamlining the regulatory pathway and for repurposing of older medicines and appropriately incentivising it, are important goals. While the existing European regulatory framework needs to evolve, the stability and predictability of it has enabled industry to invest in R&D and to deliver new medicines to patients, healthcare systems and society. EFPIA and FarmaForum remain concerned around the lack of policy reforms to address market failures in antimicrobials and calls for the development of a new pull incentive at the European level in the form of a transferable exclusivity extension (TEE).  We are encouraged by the attention placed in the Council Conclusions on promoting vaccination, early detection, and screening, and look forward to the recommendations from The Innovative Partnership for Action Against Cancer (iPAAC) Joint Action final conference, and the integration of recommendations into the forthcoming implementation of the Europe's Beating Cancer Plan. 
EFPIA and FarmaForum thank the Slovenian Presidency for its commitment to advancing the EU healthcare debate and looks forward to working with all stakeholders under the upcoming French Presidency towards the implementation of the EU’s Pharmaceutical Strategy and a better, healthier, and safer future for Europe.