Directives on the free movement of patients and practitioners and on insurance coverage of complementary/alternative medicine are more difficult to implement.
Although the free movement of persons within the European Union is a cornerstone of the Treaty of Rome, the diversity of national policies severely limits its applicability to practitioners of complementary/alternative medicine. Case 61/89 of the European Court of Justice involved an acupuncturist without allopathic medical qualifications practising in France. The Court's decision confirmed the right of individual countries to make their own legislation on whether or not to reserve the practice of medicine to allopathic doctors.
As social insurance remains the province of national governments rather than an issue for European Union consideration, insurance coverage of complementary/alternative products and treatments is unlikely to become the subject of a European Directive (280).
Nonetheless, in April 1994, European Deputy Paul Lannoye presented a proposal on the status of complementary/alternative medicine to the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Consumer Protection. He asked for provisions for complementary/alternative medicine within social security systems, the incorporation of complementary/alternative medical systems into the European Pharmacopoeia, an end to prosecutions of non-allopathic practitioners in countries where the practice of medicine is the exclusive domain of allopathic providers, and a pan-European system of recognition and regulation of complementary/alternative medical practitioners along the lines of the British Osteopath and Chiropractor Acts. He also requested a research budget of 10 million Euros per year for five years. At the last moment, the European Parliament cancelled the vote on the proposal.
At the end of 1995, the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament put forward a report intended to engage the European Commission in the process of recognizing complementary/alternative medicine (172).
On 27 February 1997 the Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Consumer Protection began a study of complementary/alternative medicine. On 29 May 1997 the European Parliament passed a resolution,
4. Call[ing] on the Commission, if the results of the study allow, to start the process for the recognition of non-conventional medicines and, for this purpose, to take the necessary steps to encourage the establishment of appropriate committees;
5. Call[ing] on the Commission to carry out a thorough study on the safety, effectiveness, scope of application and the complementarity and alternative nature of all non-conventional medicines, and to prepare a comparative study of the various national legal models to which non-conventional medical practitioners are subjected;
6. Call[ing] on the Commission, in formulating European legislation on non-conventional forms of medicine, to make a clear distinction between non-conventional medicines which are "complementary" in nature and ones which are "alternative" in the sense that they replace conventional medicine;
7. Call[ing] on the Council, after completion of the preliminary works referred to in paragraph 2 above, to encourage the development of research programmes in the field of non-conventional medicines covering the individual and holistic approach, the preventive role and the specific characteristics of the non-conventional medicine;
8. Call[ing] on the Commission to submit a proposal for a Directive on food supplements which are frequently situated on the boundaries between dietary and medicinal products. Such legislation should help guarantee good manufacturing practices to secure consumer protection without restricting freedom of access or choice and ensure the freedom of all practitioners to recommend such products;
9. Call [ing] on the Commission to remove trade barriers between Member States by giving manufacturers of health products free access to all markets in the EU....
A Resolution of the European Parliament, however, is not a binding act, but a declaration of policy. Nonetheless, the adoption of the resolution has led several countries to consider revising their legislation.
The European Commission's COST (European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research) programme undertook Project B4, a European initiative for comprehensive research on complementary/alternative medicine. The Governments of Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland (the project's initiator), and the United Kingdom all participated in the project. The goals of the project were to demonstrate the possibilities, limitations and significance of complementary/alternative medicine by establishing a common scientific background, helping to control health care costs, and harmonizing legislation. The project was completed in 1998.