Brussels, 22 November 2018: According to Eurobarometer, more EU action on health is a top demand for 70 percent of Europeans. A healthy workforce is the backbone of a healthy economy. And health is a key enabler across each and every Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) that the EU has committed to.
That’s why it is important that health and well-being be a priority for the next Commission, when there is so much the European Union can do to improve the well-being of its citizens.
This was the focus today at the launch event of “All Policies for a Healthy Europe” (AP4HE), a new intersectoral initiative supported by a diverse group of MEPs, NGOs, associations, and companies to ensure that citizens’ health and well-being be included as a core priority in the upcoming European elections.
The need for the “All Policies” approach comes from acknowledging that every policy – be it on defence, migration, economic growth, labour, digitization, education, the environment – has repercussions on human health and well-being. Each policy has the power to impact well-being for better or for worse. This initiative calls on policy makers to recognize this power and ensure that data and governance mechanisms are in place so it is used for the benefit of citizens.
The initiative has come together to help bridge silos across sectors towards the common goal of building a collaborative, humane, and holistic approach to health and well-being, in order to strengthen the European economy in an inclusive and sustainable way.
Lieve Wierinck MEP (ALDE, Belgium), who hosted the meeting, said that “the health and well-being of people must be central to any model of inclusive growth and sustainable development. If Europe cares about sustainable development, it should care about health and well-being.”
A Manifesto for a Healthy Europe is in development and will be released early next year. It will consider the need and societal benefit of having a European Commission Vice-President to be responsible for intersectoral action on health and well-being. Proposals also include monitoring of well-being across the EU and using health & well-being impact assessments for new policies and legislation.
Karen Kadenbach MEP (S&D, Austria) recalled that “the EU treaties already state that people’s health should be ‘ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities. The question is why does this not happen already”.
In 2017, the European Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe called into question the added value of EU level cooperation on health. The AP4HE initiative seeks to turn that reasoning on its head: not only should existing EU action on health be maintained, value for citizens lies in all policy areas paying more attention to health and well-being.
Andrey Kovatchev MEP (EPP, Bulgaria) said that “health is a top priority for voters in all Member States. We cannot build Europe on short-sighted economics. Europe is about more than a common market and currency. If we are to win voters’ support, we need to show that Europe cares about the things that matter to citizens”.
Erika Widegren, Chief Executive of Re-Imagine Europa, welcomed the invitation to work with other collaborating organisations to build a new agenda for a citizen-centred Europe based on an inclusive and sustainable economic model.
Brian O’Connor, Chair of the European Connected Health Alliance, also saluted the importance of working with partners to leverage the potential of big data and AI to support the digital transformation of health and well-being in Europe.
Nicola Bedlington, Secretary General of the European Patient’s Forum (EPF), said in this critical pre-election period, we must reaffirm our determination and ambition to ensure health is a priority in the European Union. EU collaboration in health is essential to meet the crucial needs of patients' communities throughout Europe, and make sure the patients’ voice – and what really matters to patients – is heard in EU policies.