EuroHealthNet’s Policy Platform provides policy monitoring and analysis for its partners and international bodies, in line with the health in all policies approach. We aim to ensure European policies, strategies, and frameworks meet their needs today and in the future.
Over the last year, our work has focused on contributing to efforts to reform and rebuild health, social (including social protection) and care systems, inspired by the wellbeing approach. It is important we act now, as European Union (EU) institutions roll out new initiatives in the context of a European Health Union, and the EU4Health programme is ten times bigger than its predecessors.
Strategising our collective work
In February 2022 we organised a Policy and Strategy meeting between members and representatives of EU and WHO to discuss such tools and initiatives and coordinate efforts. Key themes for discussion were the EU’s ‘Healthier Together’ NCD Initiative, the EU Pillar of Social Rights, the EU Care Strategy, the EU Child Guarantee, the implementation of their country’s Recovery and Resilience plans, and the WHO’s work on Behavioural and Cultural Insights. These initiatives, set against the context of the green and digital transition, were at the heart of the partnership’s policy-oriented work.
Providing expert analysis
The Policy Platform provides expert analysis and insights on contemporary issues for the public health community and for our members. We aim to help people, organisations and institutions prepare for future changes, and support timely and better-informed action on health equity. Below, you will discover the analyses in which we engaged.
Recovery and Resilience Plans: drivers for health and wellbeing in the EU?
EuroHealthNet explored whether the EU and its members states are seizing the opportunity to apply the available recovery-oriented funds to ‘build back’, in ways that systematically, structurally, and sustainably strengthen health, equity and wellbeing.
Experts from member organisations in eight countries investigated their Recovery and Resilience Plans, and/or set out how they believed the funds could best be applied to reduce health inequalities in their countries.
We identified a range of areas where the funds could be invested, including primary and community care, the health workforce; mental health; and digital inclusion. Interviewed experts expressed concern at the insufficient consideration for how measures will contribute to ‘levelling-up’ socio-economic and health gradients and thereby lead to social inclusion and greater resilience.
With its analysis of the European Semester from a health equity perspective, EuroHealthNet takes an innovative and unique approach to leverage the European policy coordination process to achieve greater health equity and wellbeing. AReSS’ participation in the country-specific analysis for Italy was an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance of community for ecosystem strategies and of human capital for transformative resilience.
- Giovanni Gorgoni, EuroHealthNet Executive Board Member and Chief Executive Officer of AReSS (Agenzia Regionale Strategica per la Salute e il Sociale Puglia)
Examining the impact of employment on health
The Précis sets out the framework for workers’ protection created through various EU and international policies and preventive measures to protect people from occupational risks. This includes physical, as well as psycho-social risks such as stress, burn-out, and depression. Practical examples from Finland, Wales, Austria, and the Netherlands illustrate what can be done to create healthy and fair workplaces through national policies and how employers can help.
An ‘Economy of Wellbeing’ to drive change
We developed a Policy Précis on an Economy of Wellbeing for health equity as a promising concept to guide a socially fair recovery and resilience building in the EU. The publication explores ways in which EU Member States and health actors can foster a transition towards healthier, more inclusive, and sustainable societies.
Tell me about the Economy of Wellbeing in
As well as offering an overview of EU and international policy frameworks and tools for enabling the change, the Policy Precis presents several promising policy and practice examples from Ireland, Wales and Finland. The document is available in two versions, the full version and a condensed edited copy. An accompanying video about the Econmomy of Wellbeing was developed as well.
The new European Child Guarantee
We developed a briefing for Members on the European Child Guarantee (ECG), to inform and engage them in a new policy measure that was adopted by the European Ministers of Social Affairs in June 2021.
The briefing aimed to give members an overview of the recommended actions in areas addressed, and information on EU funds and policy frameworks that could enable public health agencies to take advantage of this new EU instrument. The brief also served as a background document for a Country Exchange Visit (CEV) addressing child health inequalities through the ECG that took place in September 2021. We also sent our recommendations to all EU MS Child Guarantee coordinators and have been invited to present to them on these and other issues at various meetings convening them.
Tools and funds to respond to the consequences of war in Ukraine
In response to the Ukrainian war and refugee crisis, EuroHealthNet issued a statement calling for more integrated, coordinated European action to ensure the fundamentals of good health in the face of conflict.
We also developed a briefing that provides an overview of EU-level tools and initiatives that could help to support this.
EuroHealthNet also organised a meeting with the South-eastern Health Network (SEEHN) to discuss common and specific challenges related to public health that the networks were facing in the context of the Ukraine crisis.
As we respond to the influx of refugees and the public health challenges caused by the war in Ukraine, EuroHealthNet has facilitated dialogue with authorities in other Ukraine-bordering countries that are facing the same issues. In these meetings we were able to share resources and lessons, as well as discuss what opportunities there are to receive extra support, for instance through EU funding and initiatives.
- Dr Daniela Kállayová, EuroHealthNet Executive Board Member and Senior Public Health Officer, Ministerstvo zdravotníctva - Slovenskej republiky/ Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic
Engaging with policymakers
An important aspect of EuroHealthNet’s work is to engage with EC-level policy makers to discuss our priorities, share evidence and help influence policy agendas. We meet directly with policy makers, in bilateral meetings or through events organised by them.
In addition, the European Commission and other stakeholders regularly organise consultation processes, and in some cases invite EuroHealthNet directly to provide feedback on possible future policy and actions. EuroHealthNet collects evidence, opinions and practices on specific issues from its partnership, and compiles these into a collective response to help strengthen policy responses.
Meeting with European policymakers
Throughout the year, EuroHealthNet held strategic meetings with European Commission officials, including from Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion (DG EMPL), the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), the cabinet of the Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights and of the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
From June 2020 – June 2021, EuroHealthNet responded to 21 consultations, mainly from the European Commission, to ensure we applied HiAP evidence into policymaking on wide range of topics. In our responses we made the link to health inequalities, focussing on what is needed to ensure the proposed measures are reduced rather than exacerbated and contribute to the overall resilience of people and their wellbeing.
Engaging with others
Our Partnership will not get very far in achieving more health-promoting systems and reducing health inequalities by working alone. As well as speaking directly to policymakers, we also organise and engage with other stakeholders at a wide range of events. Here, we discuss relevant policy issues, shape common responses which in turn contributes to the shaping of policy agendas and strengthening policy responses.
Partnerships and Alliances
In some cases, we formalise our collaboration with other organisations by building or joining alliances that help us achieve results in improved health and wellbeing. Last year, we were extremely pleased to have signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) with WHO Europe, strengthening our working relationship with WHO the organisation and Ministries of Health across Europe.
We also collaborate more structurally with a range of other organisations at EU-level. We prioritise those partnerships that have common goals, as well as those where our involvement adds value for the ‘greater good’.
The WHO Regional Office for Europe
EuroHealthNet is an accredited non-state partner to WHO/Europe. During the 71st WHO Regional Committee meeting, EuroHealthNet made statements on
- The report of the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development
- COVID-19 lessons learned: getting ready for the next pandemic – This was a Joint Statement by EuroHealthNet and EUPHA.
Additionally, EuroHealthNet endorsed a few statements from the Mental Health Coalition, the European Forum for Primary Care, and an WHO/Europe's engagement with non-state actors.
EuroHealthNet’s Director also moderated the technical briefing. The briefing concentrated on the role of WHO/Europe’s geographically dispersed offices and technical centres in partnering with non-State actors to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to strengthen partnerships moving forward.
The EU Alliance for Investing in Children
The EU Alliance for Investing in Children promotes effective, child-centred policies and practices to tackle child poverty and promote child wellbeing for all children living in the EU.
In the past year we have collaborated with the organisation to provide input relating to the design of the EU Child Guarantee and its national implementation action plans. We also collaborated on the adoption of the European Child Rights Strategy. These initiatives will help ensure that every child in Europe at risk of poverty or social exclusion has access to free healthcare, education, early childhood education and care, decent housing and adequate nutrition.
Joint Action Best ReMap
The Joint Action Healthy Food for a Healthy Future – Best-ReMap (2020-2023), is funded by the European Union’s Health Programme, and implemented by 36 partners in 24 EU Member States. This Joint Action, delivered via collaborative work of seven pan-European teams, aims to improve the quality of food supplied to European citizens by facilitating the exchange and testing of good practices.
The topics of best practices are:
- the monitoring and analysis of how the food that people consume changes at the European and national level;
- the regulations on the marketing of food and beverages to children; and
- the procurement of food by public bodies for educational institutions, social care facilities, etc.
Day 2 of a joint @STOPobesityEU & #BestReMaP conference, & what an exciting Plenary Policy Rountable we have prepared with @istsupsan & @EuroHealthNet. Our Director @CaroCostongs will explore with the speakers how to enable an effective & sustainable integration of JA's outcomes. pic.twitter.com/QX3mQO28av— Dorota Sienkiewicz😷 (@dorsie78) November 18, 2021
The Campaign against Unhealthy Food Marketing to Children
In the latter part of 2021, EuroHealthNet joined an EU campaigning effort led by a group of EU public health civil society organisations and academia, to call on the European Commission to propose a new EU Directive to regulate unhealthy foods marketing to children. Since the current policy frameworks in place are insufficient to protect the health of EU children from aggressive marketing and advertising of unhealthy commodities – such as food and non-alcoholic beverages a much-needed regulatory action was identified.
To date, the participating organisations worked together on the following:
- Call to protect children from the marketing of nutritionally poor food. The statement has gathered a significant support from the European Parliament.
- Marking the World Obesity Day, a joint statement calling for the EU to protect children from the marketing of nutritionally poor food.
On this #WorldObesityDay, social, health & consumer organisations call on the EU to adopt strong regulation to protect children from the marketing of nutritionally poor food.— EuroHealthNet (@EuroHealthNet) March 4, 2022
Read the joint statement outlining 6 priority actions leaving no child behind.https://t.co/PfzEl0f6d2 pic.twitter.com/HgewGa4kn5
Cooperation with other networks and European Commission groups
We have signed collaboration agreements, supported and exchanged information with:
- European Forum for Primary Care – EFPC
- Smoke Free Partnership – SFP
- South-Eastern European Health Network – SEEHN
- International Union for Health Promotion and Prevention – IUHPE
- Wellbeing Economy Alliance – WEALL
- EU Mental Health Alliance for Employment and Work
- DG REGIO
- DG REGIO Expert Group on funds
- Food marketing campaign by EPHA
- EU-OSHA healthy workplaces campaign
- EU4Health Civil Society Alliance
External event organisation and participation
Building health promoting systems fit for the future
Building health promoting systems fit for the future
Learn more about being a Member of EuroHealthNet.