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EU Health Policy

Health is central in people's lives and needs to be supported by effective policies and actions in Member States, at European Union (EU) level and at a global level.  The area of health is essentially the responsibility of the Member States, the role of the EU, as laid down in European treaties, is to undertake measures to supplement the work of the Member States, whilst providing European added value, particularly with regard to major health threats, issues that have a cross-border or international impact and questions relating to the free movement of goods, services and people.  Accordingly, a cross-sectoral approach is required and all Community policies must therefore play a role in health protection.

The current EU Health StrategyTogether for Healthunderpins the overall Europe 2020 Strategy. The comprehensive EU approachTogether for Healthresponds to challenges encountered by member countries fortifying participation and coordination throughout the EU. It supplements national wellbeing strategies in accordance with Art. 168 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU. To this end, the EU is developing a comprehensive health information system to provide EU-wide access to reliable and up-to-date information on key health-related topics, and hence a basis for a common analysis of the factors affecting public health.Secondly, the EU wishes to enhance the capability for responding rapidly to health threats. This is why it is strengthening the epidemiological surveillance and control of infectious diseases. Further aims are ensuring patient safety and the quality of healthcare to facilitate cross-border healthcare, as well as the mobility of health professionals and patients.Health and consumer protection policies are particularly closely linked. The safety of products and servicesincluding food safety and rapid food alertsare key priorities here. There are other policy areas of particular relevance to ensuring a high level of health protection. Health and safety at work aims at ensuring protection against workplace risks, work accidents and occupational diseases. Environmental and health policies also need to work in tandem to achieve a high level of health protection. Technological developments and information society programmes include work relevant to health systems and public health. Regional investments in health are being supported through Structural and Investment funds with a view to contributing to reduce health inequalities between and within Member states and thus to foster social and economic cohesion across Europe. Several specific research projects are designed to provide scientific support to health-related challenges. The evaluation and authorisation of medicinal products is another key related topic.
Following the Commission’s proposal of November 2011, the current health programme is the key instrument to implement the EU health strategy. It is implemented by application of annual work plans which set out main areas and the criteria for subsidizing actions under the programme. The budget of the 3rd Union action in the field of health 2014 – 2020 is €449,4 million. The third health programme is in line with overarching Europe 2020 Strategy and the EU Health Strategy “Together for Health”; it is also a continuation of the 2nd Health Programme 2008-2013 and underpins EU health legislation including medicinal products and medical devices. The current challenges in the health-related area are the demographic change, which questions the sustainability of health structures; slow economic recovery that limits the resources available for financing of healthcare; high prevalence of chronic diseases; and increase of cross-border health threats. The key objectives are: promote healthy lifestyles and prevent disease; enhance risk assessment regarding cross-border health threats; improve and contribute to innovative and efficient health framework; facilitate access to better and safe healthcare for citizens and possible improvements that could be achieved through rapid growth of digital technologies. The implementation is through four different programmes: 1. Annual Work Programmes; 2. Programme Committee Members; 3. National Focal Points and; 4. Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA). 
1. HORIZON 2020 – Funding under the Societal Challenge "Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing". 2. Regional policy – mainly funded through the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) as health has become a priority for EU Cohesion Policy, with more than €9 billion allocated for health projects from 2014 to 2020. 3. Digital Single Market - Research & Innovation – to stimulate innovation and competitiveness through the wider uptake and best use of ICT including health. 4. Pillar of Social Rights - established to financially support the implementation of the objectives of the European Union in employment, social affairs and equal opportunities, as set out in the Social Agenda. 5. Funding opportunities in the Justice, Freedom and Security policy areas – cover area of health protection. 6. The Seventh Environment Action Programme (EAP) to 2020 – the action underpins environmental issues and improving quality of life overall.  

  1. Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA) implements the EU Health Programme, Consumer Programme and Better Training for Safer Food initiative.
  2.  European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) works to identify, assess and communicate current and emerging threats to human health posed by infectious diseases.
  3.  European Environment Agency (EEA) provides up-to-date news and reliable information on the environment.
  4.  European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) supplies comprehensive information on drugs and drug addiction in Europe.
  5.  European Medicines Agency (EMA) protects and promotes public and animal health by evaluating medicines for human and veterinary use.
  6.  European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) ensures chemical substances are registered, evaluated, authorised and restricted consistently across the EU.
  7.  European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) provides independent scientific advice and clear communication on risks to food and feed safety.
  8.  European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) supplies information needed by EU employers and workers to address safety and health issues.
  9.  Eurofound provides expertise on living and working conditions, industrial relations and managing change for key EU social policy actors.