Written by Matthew Parry and Nicole Scholz,
The European Union is legally obliged (Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)) to ‘ensure a high level of human health protection’ when shaping and implementing its policies and activities. However, since public health policy remains a Member State competence, with individual EU countries bearing sole responsibility for defining their own health policy and organising and delivering health services and medical care, EU action can only complement, not replace, national public health policies. The TFEU also requires the EU to foster cooperation on public health policy between Member States, and with non-EU countries and international organisations. The Health Programme for 2014-2020 is the EU’s response to these requirements. Its €449 million seven-year budget, while relatively modest, represents a substantial increase on the €321.5 million financial envelope for the 2008-2013 Health Programme.
The programme has four objectives: 1) promote health, prevent disease, and foster supportive environments for healthy lifestyles; 2) protect citizens from serious cross-border health threats; 3) contribute to innovative, efficient and sustainable health systems; and 4) facilitate access to better and safer healthcare for EU citizens.
Health 2014-2020 puts greater emphasis on the link between a healthy population and economic growth than previous programmes, against the backdrop of the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It also responds to current pressures on public finances amid sluggish economic growth in the EU, with a focus on cost-effective disease prevention. The Commission’s proposal (at the time) for a regulation on what it initially called the ‘Health for Growth Programme’ set out a number of ways in which the new programme would simplify and improve on its predecessors, in response to evaluations and audits of Public Health 2003-2007 and Health 2008-2013. Essentially, the third Health Programme aims to do fewer things better, focusing on EU added value and tangible results. New elements include progress indicators, better dissemination and communication of project results, as well as stronger incentives for lower-GNI Member States to participate in the programme, including preferential co-financing rates. The proposal also reflects the revised EU Financial Regulation, which is meant to streamline funding award procedures.
The programme has two main funding mechanisms: grants and public procurement. In 2014, Framework Partnership Agreements totalling €4.72 million were concluded for the period 2015-2017. Public procurement under the programme consists of calls for tender and framework contracts. In the 2014 call for tender, a total of €12.68 million was awarded.
Click here for the complete Briefing on ‘How the budget is spent: Health programme‘ in PDF.