A new year, two new governments and changing perspectives

The public affairs department of SHOP APOTHEKE EUROPE, active in 7 European countries, naturally follows relevant government policies and legislation in detail. But not only that. Once every 4-5 years (at least when governments manage to stay in place for the whole period) new elections take place. We therefore always need to have a flexible mindset and approach: After all, past decisions are no guarantee for the future. We would like to briefly reflect on government changes in Germany and the Netherlands, two countries which are instrumental for us as a business.

The Netherlands: change or no change?

The year 2021 ended with a new German government which was installed in just over 2 months´ time. Compare this to the new Dutch government which was put into place on 10 January after a staggering 299 days! Starting with the Dutch government, after many months of negotiations, the same coalition parties, namely the Liberals (VVD), the Liberal Democrats (D66), the Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Christians (ChristenUnie) will continue to form a government. The Dutch population lost trust in the previous government and polls show there is also a low trust level in the current government due to the long process and different scandals that occurred which led to the fact this same coalition had to step down in the first place 15 January 2021. When analysing the coalition agreement, the new government plans to look beyond the COVID-19 crisis and focus on long-term care and invest heavily in climate change. Concretely, these three points are of relevance for us as an e-pharmacy:

  • Decrease the rising costs of expensive medicines and medical aids and introduce them into the market at a fair price;
  • Older people must be able to grow old healthy in their own or suitable surroundings, which means investing amongst others in digital care;
  • Everyone remains the owner of their own health data. Data and information exchange between patients/clients and providers and among providers will be improved in accordance with privacy legislation, whereby uniformity is necessary. A well-functioning personal health environment (PGO) for patients is the ultimate goal.

Germany: the traffic light

The situation in Germany is somewhat different. The Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) experienced a historic loss and for the first time since 2005 is absent from the German coalition. Since 6 December, the traffic light coalition made up of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens (Grüne) and the Liberals (FDP) are in charge. Although also in Germany the coalition agreement still needs to lead to concrete proposals, new legislation and policy, we do know the following non-exhaustive list of actions is close to the heart of the traffic light coalition for the coming years:

  • The development of the night and emergency service fund (Nacht- und Notdienstfonds) into a guarantee fund (Sicherstellungsfonds);
  • To better reward pharmaceutical services and exploit efficiency gains within the financing system;
  • The creation of a e-health/digital health strategy;
  • Strengthening telemedicine;
  • The acceleration of the electronic patient file (ePA) through an opt-out regulation;
  • The further development of the gematik, the executive agency for healthcare digitalisation of the German Health Ministry, into a real digital health agency.

It´s too early to tell what the impact will be of these new initiatives, next to the relevant legislation and policies already in place which have an impact on our company on a daily basis. What is essential however, is that both governments also in the future will keep a close tie with each other, as has been the case the previous years between Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Chancellor Angela Merkel. After all, both countries depend on each other economically: Germany is the Netherlands ‘number 1 export country, whereas the Netherlands is for Germany its fourth most important export country.