This week, EuroHealthNet brought together over one hundred professionals and policy makers, all working to improve public health and social determinants across Europe. They explored how societies can unite and create enabling environments for wellbeing at all ages. In this outcome statement, participants call to put equity and wellbeing at the heart of policymaking to achieve systems change, based on the principles of the Economy of Wellbeing. This emerging model shows that people’s wellbeing and economic development are interdependent and can be even more mutually-reinforcing.
Leveraging European tools for a strong, social Europe
While the right to wellbeing for all Europeans is enshrined in the EU treaties, more could be achieved if all available legislative powers, financial tools and European initiatives were used to their full potential. For instance, more collaborative efforts are needed to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, which sets out the right to education, decent employment, social protection, and care. Member States also need to urgently develop their National Action Plans to implement the European Child Guarantee.
“In these times of uncertainty, young people want the EU to provide a vision of hope for the future. As we confront the pandemic, climate breakdown and financial instability, opportunities for system change emerge too. We must use these opportunities to create more sustainable and equitable societies, built on the principles of the Economy of Wellbeing.
- Caroline Costongs, Director of EuroHealthNet
Promising initiatives such as the European Care Strategy can strengthen social rights, and the European Green Deal can help us to safeguard our natural environments. Such visionary and long-term approaches have the potential to guarantee societal and economic wellbeing. It is this guarantee that provides hope and optimism by ensuring inclusion and opportunities for all.
Investing in enabling conditions
EuroHealthNet’s Annual Seminar and General Council Meeting brought forward clear examples of how to invest in ‘enabling conditions’, such as essential services for children, young people and families, quality and lifelong education, health-promoting schools, and social innovation. Both meetings highlighted actions to create supportive and non-discriminatory environments, including digital and technological support, and actions that enable healthy and active ageing in communities and workplaces.
Specifically, participants called for EU support to
- break cycles of (intergenerational) inequalities.
- build capacities at all ages and empower people to learn, understand and act.
- address the psychosocial impacts of current interconnected crises.
- shift systems from ‘repair and cure’ to ‘protect, prevent and enable’.
- Improve wellbeing through cross-sectoral, evidence-based action.
EuroHealthNet also calls on the European Institutions and Member States to reassure citizens, particularly young people, families, and older people, by:
- showing it has learnt from the pandemic, and helping to equip everyone with the necessary skills and resources for the challenges ahead.
- putting social rights, as well as the Economy of Wellbeing, central to targets, budgets and decisions.
- ensuring that EU funds such as NextGenerationEU, Just Transition Funds, EU4Health, Cohesion Funds, Horizon Europe and InvestEU are spent on basic needs and priorities for wellbeing.
- strengthening efforts to involve citizens and civil society in more meaningful ways in the design and implementation of EU policy.
- ensuring transparency, access and accountability, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.