Good health and wellbeing is a precursor to cohesion, stability, and economic growth; it is inseparable from social and economic conditions. This is the central argument of EuroHealthNet’s three responses to consultations on the next EU long-term budget which were submitted today. So far the EU has facilitated progress in Member States and regions which could not have been achieved otherwise. In the next multiannual budget the EU’s role for health and social equity should be further developed to support a stronger, fairer Europe.
There is a need for a common strategic vision based on EU Treaty objectives on wellbeing and cohesion, taking forward the principles of the European Pillar on Social Rights, and the Sustainable Development Goals. All future EC expenditure programmes should adhere to such a strategic vision and ensure that upcoming EU policies on e.g. the digital single markets for health, food chain policy, agricultural priorities and cohesion policy are aligned and broadly reinforce one another.
The three EuroHealthNet responses to consultations on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 cover health, research, and innovation in the single market; cohesion; and values and mobility. A summary document with key statements can be found at EuroHealthNet.eu
‘The EU has contributed to improving health and social equity through Horizon 2020, the EaSI and health programmes, and cohesion, structural, and social funds amongst others. The positive impacts are wide ranging. It has allowed Member States and regions to work together and to build capacities. This would not have been possible without EU interventions. Further collaboration and action is still needed to tackle persisting health inequalities’ said Caroline Costongs, Director of EuroHealthNet.
The next EU budget must anticipate ‘the challenges of tomorrow’. This means recognising that disease prevention and health promotion are more cost effective than cure and treatment, and acting accordingly. It must address a range of factors which affect health including food safety and diets, antimicrobial resistance, infectious disease outbreaks, as well as mitigating climate change, environmental degradation and air pollution. Technological changes will not only transform health systems – one of the largest sources of employment in Europe – but the way the entire population lives and works. The health impacts of these changes should be carefully considered and managed.
The EU has competencies in many areas which affect health. EuroHealthNet strongly recommends integrating health and social equity into newly proposed programmes to strengthen coherent and coordinated action on reducing health gaps, meeting needs on the ground. Activities on health should be linked to investments in people, in skills, literacy, culture, justice and sustainability. The semester process should be further integrated in these areas.
Considerable health inequalities between and within Member States persist. By improving health and social equity, Europe can unlock unused potential for growth. Investing in health is investing in people. An EU budget and MFF which acknowledges the importance of health and approaches it in a cohesive way is not a burden, but a solution to many challenges. It is an opportunity for the EU to tangibly improve the lives of people in Europe and contribute to more sustainable and resilient societies.
The summary of EuroHealthNet’s responses can be found here (pdf).
EuroHealthNet commends the #EU4Health collaboration campaigning for better approaches to the vision and implementation of EU health related programmes, including via the MFF, as well as the relevant collective statements of the EU Health Policy Forum.