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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 its Member States. While Member States 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.

Regulation (EU) 2021/522 establishes the EU4Health programme for the 2021-2027 period. With a budget of over €5 billion, the programme aims to:

  • boost the EU’s preparedness for major cross-border health threats by creating
    • reserves of medical supplies for crises
    • a reserve of healthcare staff and experts that can be mobilised to respond to crises throughout the EU and
    • increased surveillance of health threats;
  • strengthen health systems so that they can face epidemics as well as long-term challenges by supporting
    • disease prevention and health promotion in an ageing population
    • digital transformation of health systems and
    • access to health care for vulnerable groups;
  • make medicines and medical devices available and affordable, advocate the prudent and efficient use of antimicrobials and promote medical and pharmaceutical innovation and greener manufacturing.