The healthcare industry is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing industries. Consuming over 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) of most developed nations, healthcare forms an enormous part of the EU’s economy. The healthcare industry is made up of two main groups: healthcare equipment and services; and pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and related life sciences. Europe’s pharmaceutical sector employs some 750,000 people and generates three to four times more employment indirectly. Medical technology is also a major contributor to the EU economy, employing over 650,000 people in high quality jobs in a market estimated at around €110 billion.
As healthcare concerns human health, it is one of the most regulated industry sectors and gives rise to one of the most vibrant Brussels public affairs communities. By far the biggest spenders on public affairs are the 40 leading pharmaceutical companies who are members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. In second place are the Diagnostics and Medical Devices manufacturers represented collectively by MedTech Europe.
Good health is a major concern of European citizens. EU action on health issues aims to improve public health, prevent diseases and threats to health (including those related to lifestyle), as well as to promote research. The EU does not define health policies, nor the organisation and provision of health services and medical care. Instead, its action serves to complement national policies and to support cooperation between member countries in the field of public health.