EuroHealthNet suggests how health should be part of the solution for EU 2020 problems

In its response to the EU open consultation on its 2020 strategic objectives for smart, inclusive and sustainable growth, EuroHealthNet has suggested how health systems can become part of the solution for Europe’s ills rather than be seen as part of the problem.

The EuroHealthNet partnership, which brings together bodies working for health promotion and social equity in Europe, is working to stimulate new approaches in states to tackling economic, social and environmental factors identified within the EU strategic plans and targets. However in its response EuroHealthNet notes that many potential partners outside ministries are not being systematically engaged in design of processes, which is contributing to exclusion and missed opportunities. It particularly emphasises the untapped roles which regional, city and community bodies could play, and how health systems as major employers and influencers in communities are being ignored because outdated definitions of ‘’health’’ are often applied at state and EU levels.

EuroHealthNet recognises the potential added value of the EU 2020 targets and actions, but calls for strengthening of anti-poverty and environmental objectives, greater urgency and a better balance of economic and other objectives set out in the EU treaties, including a responsibility to protect health in all policies. It suggests three cross cutting approaches to help achieve this, based on equity, wellbeing and sustainable development, all of which are more popular with citizens than austerity, and all of which address global and continental trends.

EuroHealthNet suggests models from practical initiatives with which it is engaged at EU levels, and is seeking to pilot innovative partnerships and ideas in countries and communities. Policy director Clive Needle welcomed the consultation, but called on Minsters meeting in the EPSCO Council and MEPS voting on resolutions in the EMPL Committee this week to reflect seriously on the realities of implementing the strategy and the updated directions needed for the coming five years:

By working for implementation of ideas within the EU Social Investment Package to tackle identified needs in the country specific reforms, health promoters are reaching out beyond old fashioned narrow definitions of health. We are working on child development, youth unemployment, new technologies, healthy and sustainable work and active ageing. Now the EU strategy should reflect that potential better. What gets measured gets done, so we need better metrics. Wellbeing offers a wonderful frame-work for new partnerships and innovation beyond old economic boundaries. We know equal societies perform better. Europe can lead globally in being sustainable, fair and well and contribute to post 2015 United Nations aims. We have already looked ahead to 2030 and we only see health and social problems worsening unless there is change. EuroHealthNet partners are willing to play active roles – but that does need much more openness, dynamic leadership and a focus on how things are implemented by real people in real communities, not just passed in a committee, commission or ministerial meeting then forgotten.’’

For further information please contact EuroHealthNet's Policy and Advocacy Director Clive Needle

The full EuroHealthNet response to the EU 2020 questionnaire is here: