The importance of health to a region's competitiveness and its economic growth is vital. A region's population that lives longer and healthier lives will translate into a population that remains active in society for longer, putting less strain on the healthcare system and importantly, a population that will be an asset for the region's economic and sustainable growth.
Cohesion policy aims to reduce disparities between European regions in order to strengthen economic and social cohesion across the EU. In this context, health is increasingly recognised as a priority area, and the main tools to achieve increased economic and social cohesion in the area of health are the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).
Between 2007 and 2013, expenditure on health infrastructure is planned to amount to over EUR 5 billion, representing 1.5% of the total budget, with significant allocations for some convergence regions in particular. There will be additional expenditure in support of other health-related measures provided under other headings, such as research and innovation, promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises, information society (i.e. e-health services for citizens) and human capital (i.e. active ageing and prolonging working lives).