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Ensuring the sustainability of Europe’s health systems

Ensuring the sustainability of Europe’s health systems

On 4 April 2014, the European Commission presented recommendations designed to help national health systems cope with the challenges and pressures they face so they can deliver high-quality healthcare.


Communication from the Commission - On effective, accessible and resilient health systems (COM(2014) 215 final of 4.4.2014).



It identifies factors to strengthen the overall sustainability of healthcare systems, which are having to handle the consequences of the financial and economic crisis and of the rising demand for their resources. The recommendations are addressed to EU countries, which have the primary responsibility for healthcare.


The communication recommends the following.

  • Strengthening the effectiveness of services through performance assessment results, developing an integrated approach so treatment is not solely hospital based and ensuring patient safety and quality of care.
  • Increasing accessibility so that healthcare is available to the whole population. Better planning in the deployment of staff resources and more effective use of medicines can help achieve this. So too can EU patient mobility legislation making it possible to be treated in a country other than one’s own.
  • Improving resilience so that health systems adapt to a changing environment, identify innovative solutions and make wider and more efficient use of information and other new technologies.


The recommendations were agreed after extensive research on access to healthcare, the effectiveness of health systems and hospital reform. These confirmed that:

  • healthcare measures are complex and can only be properly assessed over a long period;
  • the early diagnosis of colorectal, cervical and breast cancer through public screening programmes can improve healthcare results;
  • the way healthcare systems are organised and managed can have a crucial impact on the ease, or otherwise, of patients’ access to their services.

Further information is available from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety website.

last update 03.11.2014