A Modern Partnership for a Changing World

EuroHealthNet Annual Report June 2019-June 2020


A Modern Partnership for a Changing World

EuroHealthNet Annual Report June 2019-June 2020

3. Policy

EuroHealthNet’s Policy Platform provides policy monitoring and analysis for its partners and international bodies, in line with the health in all policies approach. It advocates for effective evidence-based policy and funding interventions to improve health and reduce inequalities. Our aim is to help partners shape, prepare and respond to policy changes, and to make sure European policies meet their needs. Over the last 12 months, our work has focused on children and young people, and social protection systems.

Our work this year has included

Analysing the changing policy landscape on topics as diverse as education, digital health literacy, the green new deal, cancer, digitalisation, and economic policy

Delivering expert guidance to policy makers

Partnering with international bodies such as the WHO, and alliances to promote effective child policy, mental health at work, and more

Engaging with policy makers, and participating in important events

A wealth of evidence indicates that the most effective actions to achieve greater equity in health opportunities and outcomes are those that ensure an adequate level and distribution of social protection over the life-course and according to need.

Social protection refers to policies aimed to protect against the risks associated with living and working conditions, in particular unemployment and in-work poverty, parental and caring responsibilities, sickness and health care, disability, old age, housing and social exclusion in the form of social assistance and social insurance. Healthcare can be considered part of social protection systems. Although social protection systems, and in particular healthcare, are for the most part a competence of Member States, in recent years financial and organisational concerns (in terms of accessibility, affordability, efficiency and sustainability) have increased the role of the European Union. EuroHealthNet advocates, enables, and mediates to make sure that health and social equity are fully included in processes and programmes put forward by the EU and WHO. The period of this annual report 2019-2020, which has seen new WHO Euro leadership, a new elected European Parliament and a newly established College of Commissioners and a plethora of new policy initiatives in the first 100 days of the Commission.

“EuroHealthNet gives Soste valuable information on European Union and is an important channel to influence its policy. EuroHealthNet is also a tool to network with other health promotion and policy actors all over Europe.”

Vertti Kiukas, EuroHealthNet Vice-president and SOSTE Secretary General (Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health)

Vertt Kiukas

Action and reaction to a changing policy landscape

Bringing Europe closer to home: briefings on legislative and policy changes.

EuroHealthNet provides intelligence and briefings on the policy changes in Europe to members. We help partners understand how they will be affected and how they can get involved.

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    Over the last 12 months we have produced briefings on:

    • The new European Commission (EC) and Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) negotiations. 2019 and 2020 have been important years of institutional changes, as the mandate of the European Institutions as well as the EU’s long term budget (MFF, 2014-2020) period came to an end, and new elections were held in May 2019.
    • The Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is a major component of the political priorities for the new EC which sets out the overall strategy aimed at fostering environmental sustainability within a socially just transition. The policy team has drafted a number of briefings regarding the different actions of this important plan, including the Just Transition Fund, the European Climate Pact and the Farm to Fork Strategy.
    • Strong Social Europe for a Just Transition. The Strong Social Europe for a Just Transition Communication outlines the overall proposals of the EC in social policies for upcoming years.
    • Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan will set out important priorities and suggest future measures improve the prevention, detection, treatment, and management of cancer in the EU while reducing health inequalities between and within Member States. This plan is one of the top priorities in health of the new Commission. It is linked to the objectives of the Green New Deal.
    • Europe fit for digital age. The EC has set ambitious objectives to achieve digital empowerment of the public and private sectors. The Europe fit for digital age proposals aim to support transformations powered by digital solutions. It also aims toboost the development of trustworthy technology that fosters an open, fair, and democratic society as well as a sustainable economy. Given the significant risks and obstacles of inequitable implementation including safety, access, effectiveness, and authority, EuroHealthNet is closely following its developments, with attention to strategies addressing artificial intelligence and data.
    • The European Semester. The European Semester is the main economic and social policy coordination process at the EU level. Having an important impact on national reforms and European spending, EuroHealthNet has been analysing the different steps of this annual mechanism, while giving the opportunity to members to get directly involved in the process.


Social sustainability and economic progress: it’s time for a new narrative

In October, EuroHealthNet published its assessment of the 2019 European Semester, the EU’s annual cycle of economic and social policy coordination, from a health equity perspective.

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    There continue to be big differences in health outcomes between groups of people and between countries in the European Union. To address these inequalities and to improve health for all, we need a new narrative on economic and fiscal policy. A process-focused, holistic approach is now needed, one which incorporates social sustainability and health equity. The European Council Conclusions on the Economy of Well-being are a crucial development. The European Semester is an important tool for implementation.

    The national, regional, and local health bodies that make up the EuroHealthNet partnership are working to address health inequalities and their root causes. They need structural support and investments through ambitious changes at the European Union level to make real impacts. We recommend the development of a reformed European Semester that implements the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Digital health literacy

EuroHealthNet published a Policy Précis describing digital health literacy and what it means for health equity. It examines what can and is being done to support those most in need through digital means.

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    The effective and equitable digital transformation of health systems can have many benefits. People who are digitally health literate – those that can gain and use knowledge from electronic sources to solve a health problem – are more able to manage personal health and care issues. Better prevention models can be developed, and healthy behaviours supported.
    However, there is a risk that the most vulnerable people are left behind in the transition.
    People with lower social and economic status have a higher burden of disease. They also face more barriers to accessing and using information. Ensuring that they benefit from the digital transition requires action within health and other sectors; innovation within states and companies; the development of professionals and services; and wider improvements in education, and social justice and inclusion.
    EuroHealthNet’s policy precis examines the issue, the policies influencing them, and what policies and practices will help us make progress.

Health, education, and inequality

EuroHealthNet’s policy precis on links between health, education, and inequality provides an overview of related international and European programmes and policies, actions in individual countries, and recommendations for progress.

EuroHealthNet published a Policy Précis describing digital health literacy and what it means for health equity. It examines what can and is being done to support those most in need through digital means.

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    The number of years spent in formal education is closely related to health outcomes, both amongst individuals and across populations. Equally, health status in early years and later in life affects our ability to participate in education and society. The main factor that determines both health and educational outcomes is socio-economic status. By investing in good quality, accessible education – especially in early years – we can start to break and prevent the cycle of poverty and social exclusion, and its harmful effects on mental and physical health.

A partnership of expertise and influence

The EuroHealthNet partnership contains a wealth of expertise. The role of the policy platform is to unite the evidence from research and practice, and to ensure it is reflected in policy. We give a voice to public health and health promotion experts, regional and local authorities, supporting them to contribute to national and EU/global processes. At the same time, we influence EU policy making towards better health, equity and wellbeing.

Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health

Consultation responses

The European Commission and other stakeholders regularly organise and invite EuroHealthNet to take part and provide feedback on possible future policy and actions. EuroHealthNet collects evidence, opinions and practices on specific issues from its partnership, and compiles these into collective and coherent responses. In doing so, it strengthens their position at the policy-making environment at EU, national, and local levels. From June 2019 – May 2020, EuroHealthNet responded to 15 consultations.

Future-proofing the EU: strategic foresight report

EuroHealthNet contributed to the Roadmap of the European Commission Strategic Foresight Exercise.

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    This exercise aims to help refocus the EU and support its Member States’ efforts towards “future-proofing our policies”, to promote more effective responses to emerging challenges and opportunities, and to improve linking policies in different areas so they work towards common long-term objectives and re-engage with citizens on Europe’s future.

    EuroHealthNet draws attention to the need to provide responses to persisting problems of unsustainable healthcare systems, and undervalued and underfunded public health measures (prevention and health promotion). These problems are going to be aggravated by the heavy impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lives of people living in deprivation will bear the heaviest effects. The lessons from COVID-19 also indicate the need to tackle avoidable health inequalities, boost health literacy and embrace more holistic approaches. It is essential that social protection systems are proportionately universal and well-resourced, with equitable employment and income support provided and accessible across borders.

EU Farm to Fork Strategy

In its response to the Farm to Fork strategy, EuroHealthNet welcomed the EC’s commitment to develop a Farm to Fork Strategy for sustainable food systems.

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    We strongly support a comprehensive, ambitious, and truly transformative transition to European food systems that put people and planetary health, sustainability, and social equity at the centre. In the framework of the European Green Deal, this strategy offers an important opportunity to design and deliver a coherent response to the health, social, and environmental challenges related to unsustainable food production and consumption patterns.

    Unhealthy diets – a major contributor to a NCDs pandemic – are already responsible for over 950,000 deaths and 16 million DALYs lost in the EU (the 2017 Global Burden of Disease). Today’s food systems are perpetuating and driving up health inequalities – which is conspicuously missing from this proposed strategic thinking. There is an abundance of evidence to show that sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles of people are heavily influenced by their social, economic, and environmental circumstances and cultural contexts. Therefore, a pivotal role for a modern, fit-for-purpose Farm to Fork[1] strategy will be in creating food environments where ‘a healthy choice is an easy choice’ for all. EuroHealthNet counsels against disproportionate focus on ‘downstream’, ‘personalised’, or lifestyle-oriented measures (information, education) without real appreciation of the underlying causes of ill-health and disease, the social determinants of health. Those down-stream measures are part of a solution, but not enough to drive the transformative changes needed.

    [1] European Council; Council conclusions on food product improvement(2016/C 269/04)

Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan – Roadmap and Public Consultation

EuroHealthNet responded to the Roadmap Consultation for the EU’s Beating Cancer Plan, which we welcome.

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    To be successful, however, ambitious commitment must be made to urgently address the large scale of social and economic inequalities in cancer-related health outcomes and in population-wide opportunities for prevention.

    Disadvantaged groups in all EU countries and in different regions in Europe are at a higher risk from most of the common cancers due to a combination of higher exposure to risk factors, poorer access to cancer preventive measures and health services in general, and less capacity to deal with the social, employment, and financial consequences of the disease. Further disparities may occur in terms of informal care and peer-support required, return to work arrangements, or need for long-term care.

    Europe should also better contribute to more cost-effective approaches to health care delivery while meeting the needs and demands of local populations. Technical and structural support to Member States, regional and local authorities can target better investments in health promotion and preventative measures as part of strengthened primary health care systems.

    Finally, EuroHealthNet suggests giving due attention to developments in the field of task-shifting within health systems, which has the potential to contribute to the sustainability of the health workforce and financial sustainability of health systems, and can be a means to improve quality of care as well as its social impact. It can also offer new ways of delivering preventative and health-enabling activities. To this end, however, not only traditional roles of health professionals should be reviewed, but also the role of patients, their communities and healthy populations in their wellbeing co-creation process.

Evaluation of the European Social Fund to promote social inclusion, combat poverty and discrimination

The European Social Fund (ESF) is the European Union’s main instrument available in EU countries for promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination.

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    This public consultation was an integral part of the evaluation of ESF. It sought feedback from all stakeholders of the ESF in the EU countries, as well as from the wider public.

    EuroHealthNet stressed its concern that, although the European Social Fund has played an important role in fostering employability across the EU, there are persistent disparities within and between countries and regions, and certain groups. High and rising in-work poverty rates are also noted.  This suggests that the EU policy actions on employment and social inclusion need to be reviewed. A siloed focus on fragmented labour market policies and skills development is not enough to stabilise work and life conditions for all. To build a productive and resilient society, capable to adapt and withstand economic fluctuations, the ESF should be rooted in holistic approaches that integrate employment with health and other social inclusion policies, ensuring that no vulnerable groups are left behind. (Un)employment initiatives that reach out towards health and social protection services with an aim to improve health and well-being of people, and give them equal opportunities to contribute to a society life-long are good investments.

Response to orientations towards the first Strategic Plan for Horizon Europe

With a proposed budget of 100 billion Euros from 2021 to 2027, the Horizon Europe framework programme represents the largest collaborative research and innovation investment in the world and is open to participants worldwide.

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    EuroHealthNet responded to a consultation for the Horizon Europe framework that focused on questions that had not been addressed in earlier consultations.

    In its response, EuroHealthNet welcomes the interconnected character of the Horizon Europe (HE) targeted impacts, which brings more coherence to the overall impact of the programme. Overall priorities related to the ‘European Green Deal’, ‘Economy that works for people’, and ‘Europe fit for the digital age’ can be reached through HE investments. From a public health perspective, environments in which we live determine health and wellbeing, and environmental inequalities are subject to a differential and often unfair distribution in populations. Horizon Europe should be able to provide relevant evidence and ensure that the transition to greater sustainability is feasible for all as well as being socially fair.

EU Consultation on Horizon Europe Co-design 2021-2024

In EuroHealthNet’s opinion, the expected results of the Horizon Europe programme will be beneficial and long-lasting only if equity and social fairness are addressed throughout.

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    The programme concerns both the research and innovation area but also the European socio-economic model at large. Horizon Europe should guarantee that the benefits of furthering evidence and innovation are inclusive and accessible, respond to public needs and advance societal health and wellbeing.

Draft opinion on Options to Foster Health Promoting Health Systems by the EU Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health (EXPH)

EuroHealthNet responded to the draft opinion on Options to Foster Health Promoting Health Systems by the EU Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health (EXPH).

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    EuroHealthNet welcomed the Draft Opinion as a useful contribution to develop strategic approaches to implementing health promotion within the EU region and strengthening the integration of health promotion within health systems. Recognising that health promotion is an essential strategic approach for addressing health inequalities and wider systemic determinants of physical and mental health is a fundamental message that should underpin further action on transformation of health, care and wider public systems in Europe.

    However, we suggest that the Opinion should clarify the responsibilities and accountabilities of the EU and Member States, and to set out potential measures in terms of time frame. EuroHealthNet also suggested to strengthen the opinion as follows:

    • Clarify what is meant by health promoting systems.
    • Include a stronger focus on digital transformation and digital health.
    • Consider the underpinning of macro-economic perspective in achieving health promoting health systems.
    • Ensure capacity building in human resources, institutional structures, and processes for health promotion.
    • Highlight the importance of sustained multi-level partnerships for health promotion.
    • Reinforce leadership and coordination at EU-levels.
    • Emphasise the reorientation of a medical model of health and addressing the ‘lifestyle drift’ of health promotion.

Future questions for the Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in health

EuroHealthNet has responded to a consultation on the future work of the European expert panel on investing in health.

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    We asked them to consider:

    • How the sustainable development and green agenda can support health systems.
    • How the EU can use its competencies in environmental, digital, commercial and fiscal areas to improve health and health equity.
    • How the European Pillar of Social Rights can be used to improve health.

Initiative for a European Partnership for innovative health

EuroHealthNet responded to this EU initiative to provide a collaborative platform for pre-competitive research and innovation where small and big companies can join forces with researchers, patients, healthcare professionals and regulators with the aim to speed up the development and uptake of innovation in public health.

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    In our responses we urged to consider equity and social fairness, as only then innovative health interventions can make a significant contribution to addressing the challenges identified in the proposed initiative. If left unchecked, the transformative potential of digitalisation or innovations in the field of health may remain inaccessible or too costly to benefit all population groups. Better digital health literacy, broader R&I understanding of the structural causes of disease and paths that lead to better health and wellbeing, the continuum of care, and life-course approach may offer a much- needed change of R&I narrative. Preventative, people-centred and integrated care, addressing key determinants of health, should always constitute an integral part of the European Partnership on Innovative Health.

EC consultation on the proposed Digital Europe programme

EuroHealthNet welcomes the initiative to establish the Digital Europe programme to support digital transformation in the EU.

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    Digital technologies offer new opportunities to strengthen – in a balanced way – the public and private sector, and they are crucial to ensure sustainability, growth and equity in the EU. Digital innovation can bring new opportunities to transform health systems, including new approaches to health protection and promotion, treatments and care, accelerated scientific progress for early diagnosis, and prevention of diseases. Importantly, new digital technologies can contribute to reducing inequalities, by lowering costs, expanding coverage and improving access to and quality of public services, such as health, social protection and education.

Response to the draft WHO European Roadmap for Implementation of Health Literacy Initiatives through the life course

In its response, EuroHealthNet welcomes the Roadmap, which is a relevant and reasonable summary for the specific purposes of the concept, which needs to be established by the Regional Committee of WHO and taken forward seriously.

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    It identifies the main need, the main health sector situations and responses, and some channels which can be enhanced in the WHO context if taken up. It is good to see that strategic approaches are being developed. EuroHealthNet members should be at the heart of that development. It needs to reach wider audience. Currently, the dimensions of human rights and inequalities in health are almost left out, and this must of course be taken on board. EuroHealthNet highlighted the following missing parts in comprehensive implementation of health literacy initiatives:

    • There is an urgent need to address digital health literacy.
    • Update methodological models and definitions of health literacy through whole-of-society approaches.
    • Address major cultural and social inequalities between communities and demographics.
    • There is a risk of digital health literacy being perceived as not central to how the world of delivery and co-creation of health has been already transforming itself. It’s behind digital, commercial, corporate and professional developments.
    • The roadmap should make a more compelling case for health and financial policy makers and practitioners to shift their focus and resources.

    The way health literacy is described between health systems/health promotion is unbalanced and more health promotion perspectives are needed. As it stands now health literacy is presented too much as a concept in itself, we prefer to link it with public health and health promotion and make those links concrete and visible, so the added value of health literacy becomes significant.

Response to the draft WHO Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All

EuroHealthNet welcomes the draft Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All of the WHO which, overall, is a good overview of strategic approaches to strengthening collaboration among multilateral health organisations to accelerate country progress on the health-related SDGs throughout several ‘accelerator’ areas identified.

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    While EuroHealthNet supports strategic approaches and forward-thinking set out throughout the accelerator discussion documents, we believe that important equity-related issues should be addressed and further strengthened in the final Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All. In our response, we set out how the strategy can better address health inequalities.

European climate law – achieving climate neutrality by 2050 feedback on a proposal for a regulation

We particularly welcome the Commission’s emphasis on the need for the transition to a more sustainable future to be ‘just and socially fair’, and its acknowledgement of the impact of the climate crisis on wellbeing.

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    EuroHealthNet highlighted the strong links between the environment, health, and inequalities, and urged the Commission to take these links into account in all aspects of the proposed climate law, building environmental policy whilst looking through health and equity lenses. We recommended that the studies and assessments foreseen in the climate law take into account inequalities and the distributional impacts of policies or interventions on people across socio-economic gradients. Whilst recognising that EU Institutions have limited competencies to ensure Member States’ compliance with the law, we also wonder if stronger measures could not be included that lie within the scope of their powers to hold EU Member States accountable. Measures that encourage and enable Member States to monitor implementation as well as effects on health and distributional effects, and benchmarking of Member States performance will in this respect be crucial.

EU Beating Cancer Plan public consultation

Every year, 3.5 million people in the EU are diagnosed with cancer, and 1.3 million die from it. Over 40% of cancer cases are preventable. Without reversing current trends, it could become the leading cause of death in the EU. European Commission has launched a public consultation on Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, aimed to reduce the cancer burden for patients, their families and health systems. It will address cancer related inequalities between and within Member States with actions to support, coordinate and complement Member States’ efforts.

EuroHealthNet has contributed to the consultation by strongly focusing on health equity dimension of preventing cancers by addressing risk factors, early diagnosis and treatment, quality of life, and social reintegration post-disease. While welcoming the prevention pillar of the Plan, we cautioned against a downstream “lifestyle drift” for disease prevention approaches and shifting the burden on individuals, without integration of the “cause of the causes” – the structural and underlying causes of ill health and disease.

European Data Strategy public consultation

Digital innovation is creating new opportunities to transform the organisation and delivery of health care and public health interventions. In addition, as it becomes clear that digital technologies are already reshaping the way we live, consume, and work, major effects on people’s health and wellbeing can be expected. New digital applications are also playing an increasingly important role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, including through providing accelerated services via remote access and tackling the spread of the outbreak through tracing technologies.

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    As part of its strategy “Shaping Europe’s Digital Future”, the European Commission has put forward a European Strategy for Data. Seizing the opportunity, EuroHealthNet organised on the 14th of May an online discussion for its members to exchange on their expectations and concerns regarding the use of new digital technologies in public health. The discussion put a particular focus on data and systems and related technologies and their use in tackling the current health emergency as well as other societal challenges. The outcomes were integrated in the final answer to the consultation.

“Perhaps no Brussels NGO better understands the interplay between the economy and health better than EuroHealthNet, which focuses on inequalities.”

Sarah Wheaton (Senior Health Reporter, Politico Europe)

Stronger together

Partnerships and alliances

EuroHealthNet concentrates on building alliances that help us get results. We prioritise those partnerships that have common goals, as well as those where our involvement adds value for the ‘greater good’ of improved health and wellbeing.

EU Mental Health Alliance- Employment and work capacity-building seminar: 'the Future of work and Mental Health', October 2019
EU Mental Health Alliance- Employment and work capacity-building seminar: 'the Future of work and Mental Health', October 2019


2019 marks a new leadership for WHO European Region. The new Regional Director, Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge was elected to whom EuroHealthNet sent a warm welcome letter offering its continued support for achieving health for all and to not leaving anyone behind.

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    EuroHealthNet is an accredited non-state partner to WHO Europe, confirmed by the WHO Regional Committee in 2018. EuroHealthNet engages with the various WHO Europe offices in Copenhagen, Venice, Bonn and Brussels (Observatory) and we are part of the Advisory Group of the WHO Coalition of Partners (CoP).

    In June 2019, WHO Venice held a High-level Conference on Health Equity in Ljubljana, Slovenia, that introduced the first WHO European Health Equity Status Report. It is a milestone report, marking persistent and increasing health inequalities in the WHO European Region. It confirms the importance of finding solutions beyond and outside the healthcare sector. EuroHealthNet President Mojca Gabrijelcic of NIJZ was closely involved in the organisation of the event and participated in a plenary session, while our Director Caroline Costongs took part in several formal and informal sessions and side meetings with Member State representatives, including our Executive Board members Mariana Dyakova of Public Health Wales and Frank Lehmann of BZgA (Germany).

    The WHO Bonn office published the second WHO Assessment report on Environmental health inequalities in Europe. The report suggests that environmental risk factors account for at least 15% of mortality in the WHO European Region, equivalent to about 1.4 million deaths per year. It also suggests that environmental interventions are effective but are not reaching the most vulnerable. EuroHealthNet spoke at its launch event and stressed that measures that protect our environment must be equitable and not place a relative higher burden on the most disadvantaged.

    In September 2019, during the 69th WHO Euro Regional Committee Meeting, EuroHealthNet presented two statements:

    In January 2020, we participated at an expert meeting to help develop the WHO European action plan on health literacy, building on the Roadmap 2019, in Copenhagen, hosted by the Danish Health Authority. The outcomes will be used to draft the vision, actions, expected outcomes and relevant indicators to guide the enhancement of health literacy related actions in the European Region by 2030 and beyond. A draft action plan will now be developed, and a wider consultation will be launched.

Caroline Costongs, EuroHealthNet Director and Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe
Caroline Costongs, EuroHealthNet Director and Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe

Alliance for investing in children

The European Alliance for Investing in Children promotes effective, child-centred policies and practice to tackle child poverty and promote child wellbeing.

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    As part of the Alliance, EuroHealthNet contributes to continuing efforts to identify and spread the best policy entry points for effective, sustainable and timely implementation of the provisions outlined in the EC’s Recommendation on Investing in Children.In the last year we contributed towards a process of developing an EU Child Guarantee. Already in 2015, the European Parliament called for a child guarantee that would help ensure that every child in Europe at risk of poverty or social exclusion has access to:

    • free healthcare,
    • free education,
    • free early childhood education and care,
    • decent housing,
    • adequate nutrition.


    The Parliament requested the European Commission to implement a preparatory action on establishing a possible child guarantee scheme. A feasibility study was launched and discussed at the closing conference in February 2020. EuroHealthNet presented and argued that the EU Child Guarantee should encourage community-based primary care, with strong prevention and health promotion measures for children especially. Not only vaccination and screening, but also measures that help healthy nutrition, sports and physical activity, and social and emotional support. It should invest in health literacy among families and children and support Member States in exploring how to achieve universal health coverage, free health care for all children, including dental care and of mental health services.


    The Alliance has also published two joint statements on the proposed EU Child Guarantee in October 2019 and in February 2020. The statements call for the European Commission to present its proposal for an EU Child Guarantee as soon as possible. They stress that it should be adopted through a Council Recommendation on the Child Guarantee which will guide EU and national investments and policy development aimed at reducing child poverty. National action plans and implementation should then be monitored through the European Semester.


    In March 2020 we published a joint statement on protecting children and their families during and after the COVID19 crisis, which we also sent to the President of the European Commission as well as to four Commissioners and to the Croatian Presidency of the European Council. This led to an online meeting with social attachés to discuss the situation of children during COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020, in which EuroHealthNet presented on child wellbeing.

The European Mental Health Alliance – Employment and Work

EuroHealthNet is part of this informal coalition of organisations working together to promote good mental health in the workplace, to advocate for equal access to employment for people experiencing mental ill-health, and to stimulate appropriate policy actions at EU level.

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    On 9 October 2019, the eve of World Mental Health Day, the Alliance organised an event about the future of work and mental health. The seminar addressed how changes in the world of work can impact mental health and well-being of workers, and what can be done to adequately address these changes.

    The report briefly summarises the discussions of each panel and highlights the main recommendations that resulted from them.

    Read the report.

Steering board on social infrastructure

In 2019-2020 EuroHealthNet continued its collaboration with the Steering Board for Social Infrastructure Investment.

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    This group brings together European networks representing social services, education, social housing, and ageing . The Steering Board is specially focused on monitoring of and engagement with plans for InvestEU and in particular its 4th window on social infrastructure investments. On 4 December 2019, the Steering Board and Mr Alfred Sant MEP co-organised the European Parliament event InvestEU and the Economy of Wellbeing: making the most of local know-how. With over 130 participants, the event engaged EU policy makers and investors on concrete steps to ensure that InvestEU brings genuine solutions to high-quality and innovative social, health, education, and housing projects. The major recommendation was to ensure that the Steering Board becomes a formal partner to help InvestEU reach its social impact potential in local communities across Europe. EuroHealthNet presented on the need to invest in health promotion and disease prevention as part of transforming health systems.

EU4Health Campaign

2019 was the year of European Parliament elections and of nominations, hearings and approval of the new European Commission.

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    EuroHealthNet collaborated as part of the EU4Health Campaign on a job vacancy for the future health Commissioner, and a Guide and Phonebook for newly elected Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on how they can improve people’s health in Europe.

    EuroHealthNet led on the development of a joint contribution towards the Council Conclusions on the Economy of Wellbeing.

Cooperation with other networks

We have signed collaboration agreements, support and exchange information with

  • European Forum for Primary Care – EFPC
  • Smoke Free Partnership – SFP
  • South-Eastern European Health Network – SEEHN
  • International Union for Health Promotion and Prevention – IUHPE

EuroHealthNet supported the European Accreditation Agency for Public Health – APHEA and sat in their Board of Directors.

“EuroHealthNet contributes to bringing together public health organisations and proposing initiatives at EU level which reflect the aim to improve public health and reduce inequalities. Its expertise and dynamic approach is recognised as a valuable contributor to improving citizen’s health across its member organisations.”

John F Ryan (Director of the European Commission Public Health Directorate of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers)

Engaging with policy-makers

Throughout the year, EuroHealthNet meets European policy makers and officials at European Institutions to exchange information on developments and to suggest recommendations for effective action on health equity and health promotion.

We engaged with the EU Health Policy Platform, the European Innovation Platform on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA), the EU Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, and the Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health.

We held meetings with officials at The European Commission Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion (DG EMPL) in Brussels, visited the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) in Luxembourg (September 2019) and Brussels (January2020). We met with the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) on InvestEU (the programme which includes the European Fund for Strategic Investments and 13 EU financial instruments currently available)  in January 2020, and had a meeting with the Social Protection Committee Indicators Sub-Group for the Joint Assessment Framework in the Area of Health in January 2020. We also met with a number of MEPs over the year, and representatives of the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Kerstin Jorna, Director-General, European Commission, DG ECFIN and Caroline Costongs, EuroHealthNet Director
Kerstin Jorna, Director-General, European Commission, DG ECFIN and Caroline Costongs, EuroHealthNet Director


EuroHealthNet staff and members actively contributed to strategic dialogues, reviews and experts’ exchanges, spoke at and moderated several important events.

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    June 2019

      • WHO Health Equity Conference, Ljubljana (speaking)
      • INHERIT Business Roundtable (speaking)

    September 2019

      • 69th WHO Regional Committee Meeting, Copenhagen (Speaking)
      • Finnish Presidency Conference on the Economy of Wellbeing (Speaking)

    October 2019

      • ‘Health threats from climate change: Scientific evidence for policy-making’, European Parliament (Speaking)
      • “Shaping a healthy environment fit for children” conference, Helsinki (Speaking)
      • “The future of work and mental health – Ensuring quality employment in an ever-changing context”, capacity-building seminar (Speaking)
      • “The EU health debate 2019-2024: Health Champions Wanted!” at the European Parliament (Speaking)
      • Dissemination Event on the results of the EU Health Programme, Sarajevo (Speaking)

    November 2019

      • European Public Health Conference (Speaking, Moderating)
      • CHRODIS Plus EU-Level Policy Dialogue on Employment and Chronic Conditions, European Parliament (Moderating)
      • Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health (Speaking)

    December 2019

      • INHERIT Final Conference (Speaking, Moderating)
      • InvestEU and the Economy of Wellbeing: Making the Most of Local Know-How (Speaking)
      • EUREGHA High-Level Annual Conference (Speaking)
      • Workshop International Priorities in the field of health policy for Belgium, Federal Ministry of Health, the Food Chain and Environment (Moderating)

    January 2020

      • State of Health in the EU event, Bari (Speaking)
      • “Demographic Scenarios and Healthy Ageing Policies”, European Parliament (Speaking)
      • The State of Health in the EU and the Digitalisation of Health Promotion, Bruegel (Moderating)

    February 2020

      • WHO Europe Health Literacy Advisory Group (Speaking)
      • European Commission Conference on the Feasibility Study for the EU Child Guarantee (Speaking)
      • SEEHN Round table on Reduction of Childhood Malnutrition and Control of Marketing of Unhealthy Food and Beverages Impact (Speaking)

    March 2020

      • EURECO Forum on Disability, Panel on Health 2020 (Speaking)

    May 2020

      • EU Alliance for Investing in Children Video Conference with EPSCO Social Attachés (Speaking)

WHO High-Level Conference on Health Equity June 2019
WHO High-Level Conference on Health Equity June 2019

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