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Public Health

Health-EU newsletter 252 - Focus

EU4Health Programme – a stronger health policy with a bigger budget

Anne Bucher, Director General of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, talks about the ambitious new EU4Health Programme, a dedicated funding programme with a proposed budget of €9.4 billion to strengthen health systems and prepare for future health crises in the EU.

What’s new about EU4Health?

The EU4Health Programme is the Commission’s proposal for an ambitious stand-alone health programme for 2021-2027. It is a comprehensive response to the political demand to reflect the lessons learned from both the Covid-19 crisis and previous health programmes.

The Commission proposes to allocate a budget of €9.4 billion for EU4Health, which is a very significant increase on current projected EU health programme spending 2021-2027 (€413 million), The programme’s size and ambition sends a clear signal that we are serious about EU health policy. In order to achieve the biggest impact we will create synergies between EU4Health and other EU programmes and funds that share common objectives.

The EU4Health programme will boost the EU’s preparedness for major cross border health threats and improve health systems resilience, to be able to face future epidemics as well as long-term challenges such as an ageing population and inequalities in health status.

What are the priorities of the EU4Health Programme?

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated clearly the need for further action at Union level to support cooperation and coordination among the Member States. The EU4Health Programme will combine lessons learned from COVID-19 and continuing work on long-term health challenges such as cancer, vaccination or pharmaceuticals. The programme has three main priorities:

  • to protect people in the EU from serious cross-border health threats and improve crisis management capacity;
  • to make medicines, medical devices and other relevant products available and affordable; and
  • to strengthen health systems and the health care workforce, notably through health promotion and disease prevention.

Beyond crisis preparedness and response, the programme will address other important long term challenges such as inequalities in health status, uneven distribution of health care or non-communicable diseases such as cancer.

The Programme will need to be dynamic and flexible to adapt to emerging new challenges, and to serve the evolving needs and priorities of the EU and the Member States. The Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Disease will help us set the right priorities.

What are the next steps?

Once the proposal has been debated and adopted by Member States and the European Parliament, we intend to launch specific actions under EU4Health as of 1 January 2021. Actions on crisis management will be an early focus.

Activities at EU level

EU4Health Programme

European Commission – Health and Food Safety

EU Health Programme

Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA)


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Health Programme Projects

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Other interesting links

European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)

The European Social Fund Plus supports vulnerable groups in accessing healthcare.

European Regional and Development Fund

The European Regional and Development Fund aims to improve regional health infrastructure.

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe provides funding for health research and under Next Generation EU will be reinforced by €94.4 billion to fund vital research in health, resilience and the green and digital transitions.

EU Civil Protection Mechanism/rescEU

rescEU helps to create stockpiles for emergency medical supplies; and will now be given a €2 billion reinforcement under the new rescue programme to allow it to be expanded and strengthened to equip the Union to prepare for and respond to future crises.

Digital Europe

Digital Europe and the Connecting Europe Facility aim to create the digital infrastructure needed for digital health tools.