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EU Health Strategy

The European Commission adopted on 23 October 2007 a new health strategy, a white paper;

Together for Health: A Strategic Approach for the EU 2008-2013

In May 2000 a first Communication on health strategy at EU level was adopted. In 2004 the Commission launched a reflection process on Enabling Good health for all. The results of this reflection process contributed to the development of the new Health Strategy.

The strategy aims to provide an overarching strategic framework spanning core issues of health in all policies and global health issues. The Strategy aims to set clear objectives to guide future work on health at the European level and to put in place an implementation mechanism to achieve those objectives. The European Commission needs to work in partnership with Member States, as most competence for action in the field of health is held by Member States. The EU has the responsibility, set out in the Treaty, to undertake certain actions which complement the work done by Member States, for example in relation to cross border health threats, patient mobility, and reducing health inequalities.

The strategy identifies areas where the Member States cannot act effectively alone and where cooperative action at the Community level adds value to national actions. It addresses major challenges to the health of the European population that require a new strategic approach and proposes actions aimed at fostering good health in an ageing Europe, protecting citizens from health threats, supporting dynamic health systems and new technologies. This strategic approach is underpinned by four fundamental principles. The Strategy is based on shared health values; health is the greatest wealth; health in all policies (HIAP) and strengthening the EU voice in global health. It is also based on shared values including the "participation of citizens in and their influence on decision making". The Health Forum is part of the response to this last principle.

The Council endorsed the Strategy on 29 November 2007[1]. It also called upon the Commission to develop implementing measures and the Member States to cooperate with the Commission on the implementation of the Strategy.

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) endorsed the strategy on the 9 April but underline that EU powers in health policy are limited. The White Paper recognises that regional and local authorities have a key role to play in healthcare.

[1] Council Conclusions 15611/07 SAN226