Only 9 more days until the European elections. From 22-25 May, millions of people across Europe will have the opportunity to vote for their representatives in the European Parliament. We checked in with our Lilly colleagues in Europe, to see what their take is on the European elections, and what the key themes are in their countries. Today, we have 5 questions for the General Manager of the Lilly German Hub (Germany, Switzerland and Austria), Simone Thomsen.
1. LillyPadEU: In Germany, what are the key themes debated in the run up to the European Elections?
Simone: Germany has a strong industrial base. The threat of de-industrialisation is a major topic in the German as well as the European debate, and comes up in discussions ahead of the European Elections. The competitiveness German industry is under threat. In the next five years 90 percent of global growth will be generated outside Europe (Source: BDI). Take our biopharmaceutical sector in Germany: The industrial health economy is a motor for growth within the German economy offering highly qualified and value creating jobs and a huge investment in research and development. Nevertheless, the environment for a good return on investment in Germany is difficult due to a multitude of health budget control mechanisms affecting our industry.
Another topic often heard when debating Europe is the perceived increasing competences at EU level; this worries many Germans. On the other hand, cooperation in Europe is also seen as an opportunity: The challenge of aging society for instance clearly needs a common European effort. The 2015 G8 Summit that Germany is said to hold next year could provide a good opportunity to further advance the commitments agreed at the G8 Dementia Summit in the UK end of last year.
2. LillyPadEU: When looking at the current debate on healthcare in Germany, what, if any, is the impact of the EU campaign?
Simone: The EU campaign has already shown some great impact concerning the awareness for an industry policy in Germany. Satellite projects, proving the economic footprint of our sector are set up in cooperation between industry associations and national political authorities. In order to improve patients’ access to innovative medicines, the EU campaign will help to create awareness for the need of reliable regulations in the EU member states when it comes to the internal market for medicines. However, ‘AMNOG’, as the Pharmaceutical Market Reorganisation Act is called in Germany, needs to make sure that the whole governance process of benefit assessment and pricing, mainly driven by sick-funds interests, does not prevent patients‘ access to pharmaceutical innovations.
3. LillyPadEU: And how does Europe impact our industry in and beyond Germany?
Simone: The European elections next week are of great importance for the research based pharmaceutical companies in Germany. 70 Percent of German national law concerning our industry is based on European legislation. A healthy Europe needs a flourishing health economy. In order to allow our branch to find the best therapies for patients and introduce them to the German market we need a clear political commitment in favour of industry and the industrial health economy. In order to support a strong pharmaceutical industry the German European Parliament candidates are confronted with great expectations towards their future dedication for a solid, non-bureaucratic regulatory framework for health.
4. LillyPadEU: Germany is an important country in Europe. How do you see its role in Europe, and, the role of Europe in the world?
Simone: Germany is an economy with a massive export component and therefore understands its leadership role in Europe’s economic recovery. Germany’s industry associations see the opportunities of a successful free trade agreement between the EU and the U.S. (“TTIP”) which can contribute to the urgently needed economic growth, creating new jobs – on both sides of the Atlantic. Even though questions and concerns remain, Germany will support the negotiations and will highlight the opportunities, challenges and limitations of such a far-reaching and ambitious agreement.
As the “door to the east” Germany actually takes the challenge of moderating in the actual Ukraine crisis benefiting from a so far regular and good political contact with Russia.
5. LillyPadEU: As a leader in the biopharmaceutical industry, what top 3 health issues would you like to see addressed in Europe?
Simone: The demand for a strong commitment within the European Parliament and the European Commission for a health and industrial policy putting the patient and the practical needs of the health economy equally at its center. We need a sound judgment in regulation, otherwise the re-industrialization of the continent remains a dream. The predictability and reliability of legislation is essential for our indrusty’s success and productivity.
The EU Member States have a high level of IP protection. The EU has already further strengthened the unified patent protection recently. But major challenges are still ahead in the protection of intellectual property rights globally. The EU should advocate vis-à-vis third countries a better protection of IP through industrial property rights.
Strengthen Europe as an attractive area for research and development. More investment in research and infrastructure in order to support new alliances of innovation. This way, we can continue to commit our research efforts for the major diseases facing European citizens such as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.