Today, the Knowledge Partners of All Policies for a Healthy Europe issued a joint open letter to the 28 EU leaders, presidents of the European Parliament, Commission and Council, calling for health and well-being to be central to EU policy.
This letter is addressed to:
- EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker
- Council President Donald Tusk
- European Parliament President Antonio Tajani
- 28 EU Heads of State and Government
Dear EU Leaders,
This week in Sibiu leaders from across Europe are meeting to renew their commitment to an EU that delivers on the issues that really matter to citizens. On the eve of European elections the direction we choose to set for the future of the Union could not be more crucial. The new EU institutions have their work cut out to find a place in the lives of citizens that creates the inspiration and popularity which is needed to drive a future of optimism and growth.
To this end, we believe that a renewed focus on health and well-being as core priorities of the next Commission, Parliament, and Council Presidencies can be a key part of finding this place.
If the EU is to respond to the needs and concerns of its citizens, it is vital that the new European institutions should embrace the paradigm shift. Citizens’ well-being must be at the centre of EU policies. More than 70 percent of Europeans want to see more EU actions on health, per the last Eurobarometer, and past action has been successful and popular.
For example, European action on air quality has produced co-benefits for both health and the environment. The positive contribution of inter-sectoral collaboration at European level can also be seen in areas such as occupational health and safety and traffic safety. These positive examples should be replicated in other fields, within the context of broader inter-sectoral action to advance sustainable development and inclusive growth.
It would not be overburdensome to set health and well-being as a strategic objective for the Union – a few simple steps would go a long way towards improving the lives of your citizens. For example, mandating a senior European Commissioner to oversee cross- and inter- sectoral action on health and well-being would be an excellent start. Additionally, we could strengthen the Health Impact Assessment, including health equity, by further developing the ‘health toolbox’ and supporting evidence/information systems.
Opportunities to facilitate inter-sectoral collaboration and support local level initiatives on health and well-being should be identified within all policy clusters of the next Multi-annual Financial Framework. We can easily embed well-being into European economic governance too - ensuring effective implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights via the European Semester would be an important step in this direction. The EU’s Open Method of Coordination can also provide a framework for coordinated action at Member State level.
Systematic citizen and stakeholder participation could be ensured through methods such as the creation of thematic Forums and ‘Dialogues’ that feed into policy development. The EU’s Urban Agenda provides a positive, recent example of cooperation between different levels of governance. We could also maintain a ‘Home for Health’ within the Commission: a centre of knowledge and expertise that would support cross-sectoral action and inter-sectoral collaboration, deliver on health-specific priorities (such as the EU Health Programme), and cooperate with other international organisations (such as the WHO and OECD). In the context of cross-sectoral action, there should be a unit within the Commission’s health directorate(s) responsible for coordination between other sectors and the dedicated health services.
But any action at EU level requires the same commitment by every Member State for it to be effective and ultimately benefit your citizens. Therefore, the new European institutions should encourage and facilitate this multi-level governance and cross-sectoral action – with cities, regions, national governments, and civil society organisations at European and at grassroots level working collaboratively with EU bodies in different contexts and formats.
We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate upcoming the Finnish EU Presidency for their focus on ‘The Economy of Well-being’, and its role in driving EU economic growth in particular.
In mirroring this approach across all 28 Member States, the EU can become a global leader in innovating new approaches to social investment, the circular economy, and the digital transformation of health systems, cementing its position as a positive and popular influence on citizens lives, and securing of hope, progress, and wellness for both Europe’s people and its politics.
Attached is a summary of our Manifesto for your information or please visit www.healthyeurope.eu
Thank you for your consideration,
All Policies for a Healthy Europe