2014 will be a year of change for the EU, with upcoming European parliamentary elections, to be held in May 2014, the appointment of a new Commission and a new President of the European Council.

At the same time, the new Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 goes into effect and this runs in parallel with the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The European Public Health Alliance partnered with the European Patients’ Forum to express their views on the Europe 2020 Strategy:

  • With regard to the poverty target, in the fight against health inequalities, the increased rates of poverty for people living with disabilities or chronic conditions, as well as the accessibility and affordability of healthcare should be included.
  • The education target should incorporate health literacy, quality and inclusive education and the promotion of gender equality, early life development support, and continuous professional development for health workers.
  • The target for 3% of GDP invested in research and development should also be used to address unmet public health needs in research, and for the creation of safe and effective, affordable and accessible health technologies including vaccines, diagnostics, and drugs. This would contribute to the right to health for all.
  • The employment target should also address the challenges faced by people living with chronic illnesses, mental health problems and disabilities, in obtaining and retaining employment. The employment target could be used to address the shortages of health professionals with a comprehensive, sustainable approach including planning and forecasting, recruitment and retention, skill mix and creating attractive working conditions. Ethical recruitment must be fostered, and the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel must be implemented.
  • The employment target should also address absenteeism and precariousness of work. Absenteeism is a result of many factors, which could include minor or chronic illness, depression and stress, caring for a sick or elderly relative, workplace bullying and bereavement, or alcohol related harm. Quality employment is vital for health and therefore, fair employment and good working conditions for all are critical.

EPHA and EPF called on the Commission to accompany the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 Strategy with the Health Strategy, the Strategy on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity, the Alcohol Strategy, and the HIV/AIDS Strategy, and to follow up on EU action on chronic diseases with a strategy and action plan.

The review also presents an opportunity to strengthen the role of the health impact assessment. This is crucial so that all union policies and activities ensure a high level of human health protection, as provided by Article 168 of the Treaty and Article 35 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Notwithstanding the EU’s limited competence in the field of health, other policies outside the health sector, such as advertising, industrial policy, the common agriculture policy, and budgetary decisions all have impacts on health per se, and indeed the quality of life of patients with chronic diseases and complex conditions.

The process for the Mid-term Review of Europe 2020

The review itself will take place in 2015 and the preparation to this started with the publication of an EC Communication at the end of this February. This communication will take stock of where we are with the Europe 2020 headline targets, and will look at what worked and what did not work. It is also possible that the Communication will formulate some suggestions for the review itself.

The Communication will be on the agenda of the next Spring Council and it is hoped that afterwards a roadmap will be launched for a further consultation process until the end of this year. This will then also be used to prepare the decisions of the Spring Council in 2015 on the mid-term Review. The health community will be ready to play an active role in this debate.

Joint letter from EPHA and EPF on the Midterm Review of Europe 2020

Last modified on June 29 2014.