Social determinants


The Commission's plans to address health inequalities are set out in the Commission Communication - Solidarity in Health: Reducing Health Inequalities in the EU, published on 20 October 2009

There are large differences in health between countries of the EU for example

  • the chance of a child dying before its first birthday differs by a factor of five
  • life expectancy at birth varies by 8 years (for females) and 14 years (for males)

In all countries the level of disease and age that people die are strongly influenced by factors such as employment, income, length of education and ethnicity.

The EU is working directly (through EU policy) and indirectly (through national authorities and stakeholders) to reduce such health inequalities.

EU policies

The following EU policies all have a role to play in reducing health inequalities:

Work with EU countries

  • A group of experts – from countries inside and outside the EU, WHO, OECD and the Council of Europe – shares information and good practice on health inequalities and provides input into policy development.
  • EU countries have set shared objectives that include reducing inequalities in health outcomes and access to healthcare (see the open method of coordination).

Pilot projects

The European Commission also receives additional funding from the European Parliament for pilot projects to improve future policy action in the area of health inequalities.