EU in the world


In its relations with EU and non EU countries and international organisations in the field of public health, the EU aims to:

  • foster good health in the EU and beyond
  • address health imbalances between countries and regions within the EU
  • raise awareness of global health issues, as part of its global public health policy
  • promote high quality public health principles, standards and legislation.

These aims are addressed through various policies and cooperation with relevant stakeholders.

Global health

Health is influenced by social, economic and environmental factors which are increasingly influenced by globalisation. In this framework, the EU is a major actor on worldwide improvement of health, reduction of disparities, and protection against global health threats .

EU enlargement 

The EU advises candidate countries and potential candidate countries on EU health policy, and evaluates the progress they are making in incorporating EU health policy rules into their own legislation. The relevant "chapters" of the accession negotiations are:

  • Public health - chapter 28 on consumer and health protection
  • Pharmaceuticals - chapter 1 on the free movement of goods.

Countries preparing to join the EU

European Neighbourhood Policy

European Neighbourhood Policy is intended to strengthen ties between the EU and the countries on its eastern and southern borders. Health matters are discussed In negotiations for Association Agreements with ENP countries, and steps taken to harmonise rules and build capacity in the field of public health.

Cooperation with non-EU countries

The EU has bilateral Partnership and Cooperation Agreements with many non EU countries around the world which set a general framework for cooperation on public health. The agreements also serve as a basis for bilateral cooperation between individual EU countries and the non EU country.

Where more technical cooperation is required, the European Commission (DG for Health and Consumers) may enter into sectoral agreements with national ministries e.g.

EU-Russia health and food safety agreement

EU-China health and food safety agreement

Regional cooperation

To promote regional cooperation on public health, the EU supports networking between EU countries and their non‑EU neighbours:

Cooperation with International organisations

Cooperating with international organisations allows developing, implementing, and promoting the EU public health agenda, sharing health policy solutions, experiences and responses at global level. This is mainly with the WHO (and in particular its European Regional office), as well as at the United Nations and its other specialized bodies.

In addition, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency have active international programmes.