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Reprint of: Dream vs. reality: Seven case-studies on the desirability and feasibility of cross-border hospital collaboration in Europe


  • Glinos, Irene A.
  • Baeten, Rita


Despite being a niche phenomenon, cross-border health care collaboration receives a lot of attention in the EU and figures visibly on the policy agenda, in particular since the policy process which eventually led to the adoption of Directive 2011/24/EU. One of the underlying assumptions is that cross-border collaboration is desirable, providing justification to both the European Commission and to border-region stakeholders for promoting it. The purpose of this paper is to question this assumption and to examine the role of actors in pushing (or not) for cross-border collaboration. The analysis takes place in two parts. First, the EU policies to promote cross-border collaboration and the tools employed are examined, namely (a) use of European funds to sponsor concrete border-region collaboration projects, (b) use of European funds to sponsor research which gives visibility to cross-border collaboration, and (c) use of the European Commission’s newly acquired legal mandate to encourage “Member States to cooperate in cross-border health care provision in border-regions” (Art. 10) and support “Member States in the development of European reference networks between health care providers and centres of expertise” (Art. 12). Second, evidence gathered in 2011-2013 from seven European border-regions on hospital cross-border collaboration is systematically reviewed to assess the reality of cross-border collaboration - can it work and when, and why do actors engage in cross-border collaboration? The preliminary findings suggest that while the EU plays a prominent role in some border-region initiatives, cross-border collaboration needs such a specific set of circumstances to work that it is questionable whether it can effectively be promoted. Moreover, local actors make use of the EU (as a source of funding, legislation or legitimisation) to serve their needs.

Suggested Citation

  • Glinos, Irene A. & Baeten, Rita, 2015. "Reprint of: Dream vs. reality: Seven case-studies on the desirability and feasibility of cross-border hospital collaboration in Europe," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 331-337.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:124:y:2015:i:c:p:331-337
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.11.057

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brand, Helmut & Hollederer, Alfons & Wolf, Ulrike & Brand, Angela, 2008. "Cross-border health activities in the Euregios: Good practice for better health," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(2-3), pages 245-254, May.
    2. Legido-Quigley, Helena & Glinos, Irene A. & Baeten, Rita & McKee, Martin & Busse, Reinhard, 2012. "Analysing arrangements for cross-border mobility of patients in the European Union: A proposal for a framework," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 27-36.
    3. Kostera, Thomas, 2013. "Subnational responsibilities for healthcare and Austria's rejection of the EU's patients’ rights Directive," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 149-156.
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