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The European Pillar of Social Rights: Action on the social determinants of health

28 April, 2017
© European Union , 2017 Source EC - Audiovisual Service


EuroHealthNet welcomes the European Commission’s proposals for the European Pillar of Social Rights published this week. It is an enabling mechanism that promotes social sustainability – upholding our values of social justice, fairness, and solidarity. It will help connect various initiatives and proposals that are crucial for social equity, health and wellbeing.

The EC package on the Pillar covers action on the social determinants of health, which can potentially reduce health inequalities. Some will require further ‘soft laws’ or legislation, some will build on existing legislation and programmes. This includes:

  • The right to timely access to affordable, preventive and curative health care. EuroHealthNet considers this crucial to help people break the cycle of disadvantage. The competency is with Member States, but proposals for further cooperation to address common challenges are welcome. This should not only be limited to eHealth and health technology, but address broader challenges regarding health promotion and disease prevention, which are indispensable.
  • Children’s right to affordable early childhood education and care echoes EuroHealthNet’s recommendations for high-quality pre-natal and early childhood services, alongside supportive employment services, and parenting and family support services. In this respect, we welcome the EC’s proposal to support work-life balance for parents and carers.
  • The right to adequate social protection regardless of the duration and type of employment relationship is another promising proposal. EuroHealthNet has stressed that work is good for mental and physical health but the quality of work matters, and social safety nets need to exist for all workers.

The social score board in which data and information for benchmarking will be made more visible will facilitate policy making, and the link to economic policy coordination in the European Semester is an important step. These measures may well help countries to achieve ‘social triple A’. It is important that these standards are set for all member states, ensuring fairness for all citizens.

“We need to better connect our economic system to a modern social system that generates well-being and prosperity for all, – all EU citizens, also those who are at risk of being left behind, and including current and future generations. EuroHealthNet will analyse the various elements of the Social Pillar Package in detail to help its members and partners across Europe consider and support its proposed actions.” says Caroline Costongs, Director of EuroHealthNet.


EuroHealthNet is the European Partnership for improving Health, Equity, and Wellbeing. It brings together public bodies working at local to regional, national, and international levels across Europe. Our mission is to help build healthier communities and tackle health inequalities within and between European States.

EC press release and Social Pillar package are here

EuroHealthNet’s response to the consultation on the European Pillar of Social Rights can be found here.

Further info on health inequalities and the social determinants of health can be found at:

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