On 18th June, EuroHealthNet sent the following open letter to Health and Social Ministers, and Health and Social attaches.

Re: Put strong investments in public health at heart of a more social European Semester and the next EU budget.

Dear Ministers of Health and Social Policy,

Dear Health and Social Policy Attaches,

Ahead of the 21-22 June EPSCO Council, I am writing to you on behalf of EuroHealthNet, a European partnership of not-for-profit organisations working on reducing health inequalities.

As the EPSCO Council meets to discuss the 2018 European Semester, EuroHealthNet takes this opportunity to highlight the entry points that the Semester process offers for shifting investments from health care to financing for health promotion, disease prevention and health equity1.

Inequality has widened in our societies. The economic recovery has not yet reached all members of society to an equal degree and inequality of opportunities persist. Encouraged by progress in applying the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights and its Social Scoreboard to date, we support the Semester’s potential contribution to monitoring social, health, and well-being policies. A move to a more social European Semester is good for health and for reducing health inequalities. However, we also need to see it followed by ambitious investment commitments.

EuroHealthNet reiterates its long-standing concern that prioritisation and direct funding for health promotion, disease prevention, and health equity remain insufficient to make sustainable impact. European Commission’s own analysis of the European Semester’s process shows that health-related Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) receive the least attention and the lowest level of national implementation of all other areas. Furthermore, the health-related CSRs tend to neglect reference to strengthening primary, community-based care and preventative approaches, as well as integrated and inter-sectoral cooperation. There appears to be little opportunity for relevant stakeholders at national and local levels to engage and contribute their insight and good practices – this is fundamental to national ownership and high implementation rate.

EU level technical and political guidance as to which areas require urgent reform must be in line with EU budgetary plans, in particular the current legislative proposals on various funds and programmes under the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-27. That is why it will be important to bring the messages of health promotion and health equity to the attention of the EU Council scheduled to hold a political debate on the next EU’s long-term budget at its meeting of 28-29 June 2018. It is crucial that Ministers for Health and Social Policy get engaged in those discussions, as the issue is too important to be left to pure economic and financial deliberations.

We trust you will do all that is in your powers to place health equity and health promotion high at the European Semester and the next EU’s budget’s political agenda. Investing in what keeps people healthy and in the places and communities in which they live, learn and work should be one of the measures to support health systems’ fiscal sustainability and capacity. In addition, health promotion contributes to human capital at all ages, advancing children’s attainment in school and working-age people’s productivity in the labour market. Investing in the health of older people allows them to remain in paid work or to otherwise contribute to society for longer.

To make this happen, you can count on our continuous support and collaboration.

Yours faithfully,

Caroline Costongs




1 EuroHealthNet (2018). EuroHealthNet calls for new and improved approaches to financing for health promotion and health equity. Statement.