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Public Health

Public consultation on the implementation of European Reference Networks (ERN)

Public consultation on the implementation of European Reference Networks (ERN) under the framework of Article 12 of Directive 2011/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2011 on the application of patients' rights in cross-border healthcare.


The Directive on the application of patients' rights in cross-border healthcare (Directive 2011/24/EU) requires the European Commission to support Member States in the development of European Reference Networks between healthcare providers and centres of expertise.

The main added value of the European Reference Networks and of the Centres of Excellence is to facilitate improvements in access to diagnosis and delivery of high-quality, accessible and cost-effective healthcare in the case of patients who have a medical condition requiring a particular concentration of expertise or resources, particularly in medical domains where expertise is rare (see Recital 54 of the Directive). European Reference Networks could also be focal points for medical training and research, information dissemination and evaluation, especially for rare diseases.

Article 12 requires the Commission to adopt a list of criteria that the networks must fulfil, and the conditions and criteria which providers wishing to join networks must fulfil. The Commission is also required to develop and publish criteria for establishing and evaluating European Reference Networks. And it must facilitate the exchange of information and expertise on the establishment of the networks and of their evaluation.

Public Consultation

DG Health & Consumers launched a public consultation targeted to stakeholders on the implementation of European Reference Networks (ERN) and in particular on the criteria to be considered according to Article 12 of the Directive 2011/24/EU.

A conceptual paper and a questionnaire have been prepared by Directorate General Health & Consumers.

Target groups:

  • Patient organizations, health professionals' organizations and healthcare provider's organizations.
  • Healthcare providers and centres of excellence, academic and public health and healthcare specialized institutions.
  • Public authorities and government-appointed bodies responsible or involved in the definition of criteria and the establishment and evaluation of centres of reference/excellence and reference networks of centres providing highly specialized healthcare

The consultation has been launched the 23rd of November 2012 and closed the 22nd of February 2013.

The objective of the public consultation was to consult stakeholders to receive input of interested parties as to how the criteria for the scope and for European Reference Networks and the healthcare providers wishing to join the network could be addressed and facilitated.

Results of consultation and next steps

A summary and all contributions received from stakeholders regarding the above mentioned public consultation can be found below:

Summary report

List of all contributors to the public consultation (Total: 138 contributions)

Individual reports:

Academic/public health and healthcare specialised institution/organisation (e.g. Institutes and University (33 contributions)

Health professionals’ organisations (29 contributions)

Patient organisation/association (26 contributions)

Healthcare provider (23 contributions)

Healthcare provider organisations (7 contributions)

Public authorities and government-appointed bodies (13 contributions)

Health insurer (2 contributions)

Individual respondents (5 contributions)

Contact details

Responsible service:

European Commission

Directorate General Health & Consumers

Unit D2 – Healthcare Systems


Protection of personal data

Specific privacy statement