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Public health

Under Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, public health is a competence shared between the European Union and EU countries. While EU countries define and deliver their national health services and medical care, the EU seeks to complement national policies by means of its Health Strategy to:

  • prevent illness/disease by promoting healthier lifestyles;
  • facilitate access to better and safer healthcare;
  • contribute to innovative, efficient and sustainable health systems;
  • deal with cross-border threats;
  • keep people healthy throughout their lifetimes;
  • harness new technologies and practices.

The European Commission's 2013 paper ‘Investing in Health’ seeks to help the EU rise to these challenges, many of which have been compounded by the economic crisis, i.e. an ageing population, an increase in chronic diseases, a greater demand for healthcare and the high cost of technological progress.

The EU's Health programme (2014-20) has a budget of almost EUR 450 million. It aims to support projects to improve Europeans' health and reduce health inequalities.