Delivering a healthier, more social, and inclusive Europe through the European Semester

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EuroHealthNet has engaged with its national, regional, and local health experts to analyse how the European Semester process can affect the health and wellbeing of European citizens, and address existing inequalities. The result of this is a new report on 'The European Semester 2018 from a health equity perspective.'

The European Semester is the EU’s annual cycle of policy coordination. It reviews the economic and – since recently – social situation in Member States and in the EU as a whole. It makes country specific recommendations at national level to bring Europe towards commonly agreed goals.

EuroHealthNet’s report contains guidance for both the European Commission and public health actors to help to assess and enhance their efforts in making full advantage of using the Semester, the European Pillar of Social Rights and EU funding mechanisms to improve public health and health equity.

The report coincides with the launch by the European Commission of its Annual Growth Survey 2019, the first part of the 2019 European Semester cycle. In-work poverty and inequalities across the EU are increasing, with widening gaps within and between EU Member States. As the 2018 Health at a Glance report shows that gains in life expectancy have stagnated and large inequalities in life expectancy persist, notably leaving people with a low level of education behind. The need for action on the social and economic determinants of health is clear and urgent.

The report includes 10 practical steps to improve the Country Specific Recommendations from 2019 on. Future Semester cycles should:

  1. Address the wider determinates of health.
  2. Acknowledge the crucial role of health systems in long term sustainable growth and development.
  3. Improve the quality and comparability of measurement, strengthen the monitoring and reporting.
  4. Allow for and support the long-term nature of reform in health-related sectors.
  5. Be implemented consistently.
  6. Increase capacity for all relevant stakeholders to be involved in the process.
  7. Consider the different levels of governance of health and social issues.
  8. Use the existing knowledge and expertise of civil society and public expert bodies.
  9. Acknowledge the value of EU strategic support to national health and social protection system reforms, not least by EU funding mechanisms.
  10. Address the public health areas which are currently overlooked in macroeconomic considerations.

The report can be downloaded from EuroHealthNet.eu.