Does Europe need a Health Union?

Anne Bucher writes for the Brussels-Based Economic Think Tank (Bruegel) that health outcomes in the European Union are good by international standards, even compared to other developed economies, and improved continuously before COVID-19. This reflects the alignment of the objectives of improving health and wellbeing with the overall socio-economic objective of prosperity, and suggests that a radical overhaul of EU health policy is not needed. However, the EU could benefit from closer integration in some areas and be more effective in delivering a high level of health protection. The EU could take action in the following areas:

  • Further the Health Union approach to address cross-border externalities and enhance health security.
  • Put systems in place for the surveillance of non-communicable diseases and consolidation of scientific knowledge.
  • Consider the ‘Health in all Policies’ principle to better organise, coordinate and consolidate the scientific knowledge that underpins health-protection measures in sectoral legislation, and should more systematically apply better regulation rules to the health impacts of EU policies.
  • Support the digital transformation of health systems and set high targets for the European Health Data Space initiative, which is a critical infrastructure for the future of health research, regulation and policymaking. Several non-health EU policy objectives (cohesion policies, European Pillar of Social rights, economic governance) are linked to the performance of health systems. A common understanding on how to measure this performance would inform these policies in a consistent way.
  • Monitoring of health inequalities, including those related to access to and quality of healthcare, should be improved as an initial step.

Find the full Policy Contribution here. 

Data Sources, Governmental / Institutional / Public Health Statutory Body Document, Policy & Policy Analysis
Digital, ehealth and mhealth, digitalisation, health literacy, Governance, Health in All Policies, Economy of Wellbeing, Health Impact Assessment, sustainable development, Health systems and services, primary health care, integrated systems, prevention services, health workforce

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