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Public Health

2019 call for membership to the existing European Reference Networks (ERNs)


Opening date
Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety

Target audience

Public health community

Why we are consulting

30 September - 30 November 2019

Due to the Covid19 outbreak and the consequent sanitarian emergency situations that many healthcare providers are facing in Europe, including current ERN members contributing to the evaluation of the applications, the Commission has adopted an Implementing Decision (EU) 2020/534 of 16 April 2020 to suspend the examination of applications for membership of existing European Reference Networks.

The suspension is from 1 April to 31 August 2020. The examination process will resume on 1 September 2020 and the suspended time limits will continue running from that date.

Any new applications created after the deadline (30 November 2019, 23.59 CET) will be considered ineligible and will not be further assessed.





How to apply to become a member of an ERN?

The membership application process will involve several steps:

  • Review the information that is included on the Commission webpagerelated to the European Reference Networks and the applicable legislation
  • Contact your national representatives in the ERN Board of MS. They will provide you with more specific information on the national endorsement process
  • Fill in the application and self-assessment in the online tool
  • Include all required documents that are specified in the online tool and described in the assessment manual, which include the following:
    • Letter of Endorsement for Healthcare Providers
    • Declaration signed by the Director or the CEO of the hospital (to be provided in the online tool)
    • Declaration signed by the Healthcare provider Representative (to be provided in the online tool)

Before submitting the application, the following information shall be reviewed by the healthcare providers

  1. Applicable legislation
  2. The scope, criteria and thresholds of the diseases covered by each of the 24 ERNs
  3. Information provided by the Networks on their websites
  4. Assessment manual and operational criteria

Further information for the applicants

General information on ERNs

Created under the 2011 Directive on Patient Rights' in Cross-Border Healthcare, European Reference Networks (ERNs) are cross-border networks bringing together centres of expertise and reference centres of European hospitals to tackle rare or low prevalence and complex diseases and conditions that require highly specialised healthcare. ERNs enable specialists in Europe to share learnings and discuss complex patient cases, providing advice on the most appropriate diagnosis and the best treatment. A key principle of ERNs is to let the knowledge travel rather than the patient leading to economies of scale and more efficient use of costly resources.

24 ERNs covering all major rare disease groups were launched in March 2017, including 956 highly specialised healthcare units from 313 hospitals located in 26 countries (25 EU Member States plus Norway). Each Network has a Coordinator and the 24 of them are gathered within the ERN Coordinators group (ERN-CG) establishing a common ground on several key technical and organisational aspects of the Networks activities.

The Board of Member States (BoMS), as laid out in the European Commission Implementing Decision, was set up on 5 February 2014, and consist of the EU Member states and Norway. One of the tasks of the BoMS include the approval of healthcare providers wishing to join existing Networks.

Results of the 2019 Call

The ERN Board of Member States, as given in the Implementing Decision 2014/287/EU Article 10, approved on 26 November 2021 by consensus 620 applicants.

List of applicants is available: 

Respond to the consultation

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