EU Health Policies


The aim of EU policies and actions in public health is to improve and protect human health, and to support the modernisation of Europe's health systems, thereby contributing to the Commission's 2014-2019 priority on growth and jobs.

In line with the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity, the Commission's role is mainly to support the EU Member States' efforts to protect and improve the health of their citizens and to ensure the accessibility, effectiveness and resilience of their health systems

Investing in health

As well as being a value in itself, health is a precondition for economic prosperity. Efficient spending on health can promote growth.

Europe needs smart investments in health:

  • spending smarter - but not necessarily more, in sustainable health systems;
  • investing in people’s health, particularly through health promotion programmes;
  • investing in health coverage as a way of reducing inequalities and tackling social exclusion.


Key challenges for 2016-2020

EU action in the public health area is mainly linked to incentives and cooperation measures. The Commission has an important supporting role to play, providing guidance and tools to promote cooperation and help national systems operate more effectively. Actions focus on the following challenges:

  • achieving greater cost-effectiveness;
  • competitiveness together with safety;
  • tackling emerging global threats;
  • evidence-based policy making;
  • addressing the risk factors of chronic disease.