News 10.06.2014 Standards from Brussels Not Always Appropriate

Berlin/Brussels, June 10th, 2014.

The EU should not set out to standardise those things which are better regulated by the individual Member States. Once again, the President of the European Association of Hospital Managers (EAHM), Heinz Kölking, has pointed to a further attempt by Brussels to intervene more strongly in the health systems of the Member States through the introduction of new regulations.  A current example is the drive by the European Commission to develop standards for medical treatment which would then apply across the whole of Europe.

Leaving aside the intransparency of this process, the standardisation of medical treatments is of value neither to patients nor physicians. In Germany for example, there are specialist medico-scientific associations which develop guidelines for their federal state and which are updated in accordance with the latest scientific developments. They represent aids to the decision making of medical professionals, not irrevocable standards as every patient needs to be treated individually. It is not the job of European institutions to regulate such matters.

“The hospital directors and managers of the EAHM member organisations consider it far more expedient to leave the health systems and their development under the regulative authority of the respective countries. We can exchange experience on these matters and also profit from each other in the process. In our opinion, the one size fits all approach of Brussels is not helpful.”

Exchanging experiences and ideas with colleagues and representatives from business and politics is on the agenda of the 25th EAHM Congress from September 10th to 12th in Berlin. Around 600 managers and directors from hospitals throughout Europe will discuss the theme “The Healthcare Industry – Our Responsibility Towards People”. The Federal Minister of Health, Hermann Gröhe has agreed to hold a keynote speech.

The congress will discuss the healthcare industry as a growth factor in Europe, looking at an OECD comparative study and drawing the necessary conclusions, as well as discussing the importance of healthcare provision for the development of society.

The programme and further information can be found under


The working group “Physicians and Legal Professionals” of the Association of the Scientific Medical Societies in Germany (AWMF) has spoken out against the European standardisation of medical services. At a symposium in Würzberg it referred to corresponding measures of the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), to which all the EU Member states belong. These are not in accordance with the requirements and contents of German further

education law which constitutes the basis for exercising the profession of a physician in Germany.

The German Hospital Association recently called for the European Commission to respect the jurisdiction of the Member States with reference to the organisation and financing of their healthcare systems and to enforce the principle of subsidiarity. This must also apply to the multitude of initiatives authorised by the Commission itself. A recent example is the commissioning of commercial standardisation organisations such as the ISO or CEN to compile standards for the treatment of breast cancer.

The German Medical Association has called for “a greater commitment to subsidiarity”. Europe’s strength is in its different cultures. The EU should only intervene when there is a necessity for common, expedient framework conditions. “The primary responsibilities of the Member States with respect to healthcare policy must be defended against inadmissible harmonisation efforts.”

The European Association of Hospital Managers (EAHM) is a working group composed of 24 representative hospital manager associations from European countries with around 16,000 members.

The goals of the European Association include, amongst others:

  • Promoting the professional competence and the assumption of responsibility of directors and senior staff from hospital management and the hospital sector in the European countries
  • Developing proposals for the integration of the hospital sector in the EU as the basis for the establishment of a “social Europe”
  • Influencing EU directives that affect hospitals.  

European Association of Hospital Managers (AEDH – EVKD – EAHM)                                        German Association of Hospital Directors e.V. (VKD)
Mr Willy Heuschen                                                                                                                       Gabriele Kirchner
General Secretary                                                                                                                         Managing Director
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