EUGLOREH project
THE STATUS OF HEALTH IN THE EUROPEAN UNION:
TOWARDS A HEALTHIER EUROPE

FULL REPORT

PART I - THE CONTEXT FOR HEALTH

2. THE CHANGING CONTEXT FOR HEALTH IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

2.2. Globalisation, travel and trade

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2.2. Globalisation, travel and trade

 

Liberalisation of trade controls on manufacturers, an easing of restrictions on foreign direct investments and other capital movements, as well as sharply reduced costs of transportation and telecommunications, have fostered the emergence of a global market economy. More businesses face fiercer competition in their domestic and export markets. As a result of these changes, intensified global competition for products and services feeds through into pressures to adapt workplaces and match the efficiency and quality of market leaders – or close down. The EU25 share of world trade (import and export) was 19% in 2005 (the same as in the USA and double that of Japan or China). Asia is the main world partner region of the EU25, with trade of more than 700 billion euro in 2004 followed by the US, with almost 550 billion euro. Maritime transport was by far the most frequently used mode of transport for imports of agricultural products and live animals (61%) and foodstuffs and animal fodder (89%) into the EU during 2004 (Eurostat).

 

The progressive reduction of barriers that first took place between local and national, then regional and now intercontinental markets is a dominant economic topic in recent economic history (globalisation). Continued globalisation, through increased trades, travels, capital movements and services, in addition to offering new important opportunities, also broadens human and animal exposure to a variety of biological hazards and makes zoonoses and food-borne diseases as well as of other problematic issues much more difficult to control. Globalization has also increased travel, especially by air, connecting in hours extremes of the world.

 

The report by Rudiger Leidner (2007) entitled “The European Tourism industry in the Enlarged Communityupdates the Commission’s first analysis of the European tourism sector and extends it to the tourism industry of the enlarged Community. It reveals that Europe is a very stable tourist destination compared to other large regions in the world. The enlargement process contributed to this by inducing international arrivals not only in the new Member States, but also between old and new Member States. The still existing gaps in income can be seen in the rapid growth in the new Member Stateswhilst the differences in travel habits open a tremendous of business opportunities and offer incentives to improve competitiveness. In the first years of the 21st centurydespite an international environment not friendly towards global tourismEurope consolidated its position as tourist destination number one in the world. Whereas the growth rates of international arrivals worldwide even turned negative in 2001 and 2003 they continued growing in Europe. Since 2004 global international arrivals have accelerated again. The increase continued irrespective of the rise in oil prices. The enlargement process contributed to improving Europe’s position as a tourist destination. The Community’s accession policy and the market oriented policies in the new Member States facilitated very large increases in tourist flows between old and new Member States – a trend that is still continuing. The overnight stays in the nearest old Member States generated by the three largest new Member States (Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic) grew by 56% in the period 1997 to 2004 and 26% in the opposite direction. Thus, the importance of intra-European tourism increased during the process of enlargement. The process of demographic ageing is characterized by a growing share of people older than 65. Data show that, without significant differences between old and new Member States, tourists aged 65+ continue travelling and do not reduce their travel expenditure severely. Taking into account that this age group prefers domestic destinations, the shift in the demand structure caused by demographic ageing will open new markets in particular for the regionally-oriented smaller tourism companies as long as they meet the higher requirements of this age group concerning service quality and accessibility. Innovation is of crucial importance for tourism, as it has an impact on tourism demand as well as on supply. The 17.5% increase of international tourist arrivals since 1950 would not have been conceivable without the technological innovations in the transport sector that made car and air transport affordable to almost everybody. Innovation by the tourism enterprises themselves aims at lowering costs and improving service quality to increase competitiveness. The same is true with regard to the uninterruptedly increasing on-line travel which not only changes consumer habits, but also facilitates new marketing strategies in the tour operator sector. Indeed, tourism is a very innovative sector. Lots of new products (nature-based tourism, wellness, cultural tourism etc.) were developed to meet evolving demand. Product quality and innovation are important factors to avoid the decline of destination. Within the process of demographic ageing the number of tourists with activity limitations is also expected to rise. A recent study estimates that the figure amounts to about 260 million people. Since the share of tourism facilities meeting their needs is currently quite low in most Member States, the catering of this market will initiate increases of service quality resulting in improved competitiveness of the tourism industry in general.

 

World-wide travel and global trade is often a very important risk factor for the transmission of infectious diseases although there are severe limitations on the relevant surveillance data. Of particular concern is the adventure/eco tourism to remote areas all over the world, being travels that bring a steadily growing number of humans into contact with pathogens and their reservoirs. Another effect of this increased travelling is “airport malaria” that is sometimes reported in relation to the inadvertent transport of infected mosquitoes from endemic areas. Furthermore, the growing cooperation of Europe with low-income countries results in a regular flow of European professionals from different fields (healthcare, engineering, planning, etc.), enrolled in NGOs and national cooperation agencies. They are also exposed to (re-)emerging diseases and can be an involuntary vehicle for the entrance of these diseases in Europe. Environmental, ecological and climate changes contribute to the emergence, maintenance and transmission of vector-borne and other infectious diseases, some of them imported from regions where they are endemic. The effect of global warming on Europe in the years ahead could increase this danger. In particular, the potential for malaria re-introduction in countries where it has been eradicated is a growing concern also due to global climate change, as the malaria vectors are still present in those areas, including Europe. Moreover, with their different social environments and microbiological ecosystems and trade in food, animals and other goods broadened human exposure to a variety of hazardous agents and made the prevention and control of food-borne and other diseases much more difficult to carry out.