The final report of the EU Future Conference was presented last Monday. One of the main demands being made is that health and health care be included in the competences shared between the EU and the EU member states. But what do Austrians think about this? Several studies conducted by the University for Continuing Education Krems and the University of Graz were carried out on this topic.

Almost half (47%) of the respondents rated European cooperation during the pandemic as rather or very good, while more than half found it rather not or not at all good (53%). However, a closer analysis reveals significant differences among the age groups. Thus, two thirds (67%) of the group of 15 to 24 years rate the European cooperation in the COVID 19 pandemic as rather/very good and the group of over 65 years still shows a slight majority with 51%. The least approval, at just under 40%, of European pandemic management is found among those aged 45-64. "It is striking that the group of 15 to 24 years in particular is consistently in favor of more European and international cooperation in health policy. All in all, the picture is mixed. Yet, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that party preference plays an important role," says study director Christina Hainzl, head of the Research Lab Democracy and Society in Transition at the University for Continuing Education Krems.

European health policy in the future?

Just under half (49%) of respondents answered in the affirmative whether there should be greater European cooperation in the health sector in the future. Around a quarter (26%) were unsure and the remaining quarter were against. Particularly younger people (55%) were in favor. The approval rate equally increases with a higher level of education (compulsory schooling: 45% vs. Matura: 56% and university studies: 55%).

Looking at the approval of more European cooperation in the area of health according to party preference, it appears that this is highest among people who would vote for one of the two governing parties (Peoples Party (ÖVP) 64 %, Greens 70 %). Although European agendas are a core issue for the NEOS, potential voters of the party are comparatively less in favor of an expansion (60%). Potential Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) voters agree with 63%, while Freedom Party (FPÖ) voters support this with only 34%.

Attitudes towards global cooperation

The FPÖ voters' opinion of the importance of global health policy draws a slightly different picture. 54% of potential FPÖ voters consider this to be rather or very important. The highest approval rating is found among the Greens with 95% (rather/very), followed by ÖVP (91% rather/very) and SPÖ voters (90% rather/very). NEOS voters agree with 83%. A majority (52%) of respondents agree with the expansion of international aid in the health sector.

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