EU budget proposal promises more integrated action, but whether it will reduce inequalities still remains to be seen.

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The European Commission has today proposed the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027, the EU’s next long-term budget. EuroHealthNet, in considering how this budget will affect health, wellbeing, and equity: 

  • Welcomes the plan to include health and social actions within a cluster of linked funds and programmes headed ‘Investing in People”;
  • Welcomes the proposal for increased investments in research, better data and digital developments;
  • Hopes that EU Institutional negotiations will result in maintenance of levels of funding for activities supporting improved wellbeing of people across the EU, balanced by reducing outdated funding of public health-harmful measures.
  • Is concerned that funds to reduce inequalities within and between Member States and regions may be reduced by 5% and have higher co-financing rates.

EuroHealthNet will continue to analyse the proposals in the coming months, as further financial mechanisms and programmes are announced.

Integrated approaches are the most efficient way to address social, economic, and environmental determinants of health and inequalities. Smart EU investment on social, health, and research programmes and funds should be linked to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and implementing the EU Pillar of Social Rights. It is encouraging to note that the EC seemingly recognises the value and benefits of these approaches – but further details on specific programmes are much needed.

Clustering funds and programmes that include social investments, health, and support for the new EU Pillar of Social Rights offers potentially improved opportunities for coherent, connected work, on the ground in Member States and communities. New InvestEU and ESF+ programmes have promising potential.

Good investments are based on good evidence, so the proposal to increase health research in the proposed Horizon Europe Programme is encouraging. However, some principles and details of how transparency will be ensured in private public partnerships must be clarified.

The proposal to increase support for actions to mitigate climate change will help protect health and potentially tackle inequalities. Proposals to reform land use and agricultural funds not only offer sustainable ways to balance EU budgets, but could be vital for improving health, and tackling key causes of obesity and diet-related Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Indications that funds for tackling inequalities within and between states and regions, and improving much needed infrastructures and services (cohesion funds) may be reduced by around 5% or even more are a worrying development. Such funds can and are being used to improve the health of populations in need.

 “Addressing the social determinants of health is an effective way to enable good standards of health and wellbeing. We welcome the European Commission’s intention to further integrate health with investing in people and improving social standards. We congratulate the Commissioners, particularly including Marianne Thyssen, Vytenis Andriukaitis, and Carlos Moedas, for championing the benefits of this approach. Further collaboration and concrete action is now needed to ensure reducing inequalities in health between EU Member States are put at heart of the detailed new EU financial programme and financial mechanisms” said EuroHealthNet Director Caroline Costongs.

EuroHealthNet will host a seminar on Innovative Financing and Investments for Health Promotion in Brussels on 5th June. It will offer an early opportunity to discuss the MFF proposals among other promising new measures. Details on the next EU Programmes 2021-2027 are anticipated to be announced by the end of May, so the EuroHealthNet Partnership will make further contributions then.

Notes

EuroHealthNet is the leading Partnership for Health, Equity and Wellbeing in Europe, with key activities in policy, practice as well as research. Its unique focus is on reducing health inequalities through action on the social determinants of health, integrating sustainable development goals, ‘rejuvenating’ health promotion[1], and contributing to the transformation of health systems. Its main members are authorities and statutory bodies responsible for public health, health promotion and disease prevention at national, regional and local level.

The summary of EuroHealthNet’s responses to the MFF Consultation can be found here.

The European Commission's announcement can be found here.

 

[1] EuroHealthNet REJUVENATE Framework of health promotion in the sustainable development goals