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Lisbon’s EU at the WHO: a healthy reform for better inter-organisational cooperation?

Wulf Reiners
University of Cologne
Wulf Reiners
University of Cologne
Open Panel

Abstract

Global health governance represents an increasingly relevant yet largely understudied topic of international relations. The EU has established the capacity to play a leading role in health not only within the EU but also as an international actor at the World Health Organisation (WHO) – the “centre court of global health policy” (Jørgensen 2009) – as exemplified by the successful negotiations on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Still, limited and shared competences and the complex institutional configuration lead to a fragmented picture of the EU, impacting not only its negotiation performance but also the functioning of inter-organisational relations in health matters. The study will apply a rational institutionalist perspective, starting from an analysis of the structural changes brought by the Lisbon Treaty that affect the set-up for (external) public health policy. In a second step, the article investigates on patterns of interaction and discourses during the ongoing negotiations on the WHO Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework – a focus particularly promising in the light of the recently introduced Union competence to combat “cross-border threats to health” (Art. 152 TFEU). By analysing internal coordination and external representation processes between EU, Member States and WHO under both the Nice and the (unrolling) Lisbon set-up, the paper explores the question in how far the EU’s new institutional architecture enables the Union to live up to its ambition to contribute to (effective) multilateralism and inter-organisational cooperation.