Euroregions make up 30% of the EU’s territory. Large groups of people live here. Often, their orientation is not towards the capital city and, conversely, the capital cities are often far away from the Euroregions. Yet here, people do experience the principles of the EU directly.
The basis is the free movement of people, goods and services. At the same time, the EU is organised according to the principle of subsidiarity: what can be arranged at a lower level should not be arranged at the EU level. This means that health care and health policy, for example, are the responsibility of the Member States. In border regions, these differences are experienced on a daily basis. People work across borders, are insured across borders, have accidents across borders, have hospitals that are closer across borders than hospitals in their own country. They can get care across the border, because it is more practical. They speak the same language across the border, whereas in their own country they speak a minority language, and so on.
It is at this pivotal point that the challenges of streamlining the EU lie. The Cross-border Healthcare Directive is the result of citizens’ initiative to use their own country’s health insurance backpack to eventually get that care in neighbouring countries. Rare diseases, too, can now be served EU-wide through the directive. People can now cross national borders within the EU and go to those centres that have the highest level of specialisation for a particular disease.