The conference addressed the future of public health in Europe just before the start of business of the new European Parliament and Commission as well as the review of the EU’s long-term objectives (Europe 2020). The main topics discussed were:

  • The public health consequences of the economic crisis

Protecting and improving the health of everyone living in Europe is a core value of the EU. The economic crisis however forced many EU Member States to make across-the-board budget cuts. It resulted in shrinking health care and social budgets that undermined access to, and the quality of, health care. Overall, the crisis severely worsened health outcomes (2). The EU’s role in addressing this decline in public health and the limits of the reach of ‘Brussels’ were discussed along the lines of should the EU be doing more or should it be doing what it does better.

“The EU has made, and will continue to make, a meaningful contribution to improved public health in Europe by supporting and facilitating co-operation between EU countries, as well as by supporting the efforts of certain countries in the reform of their health systems. The current consultation on the Europe 2020 review is a window of opportunity for stakeholders committed to health to stress the importance of the health sector to the European economy, and to highlight areas where EU collaboration should be strengthened,” said Mrs Testori Coggi, Director-General for DG Health and Consumers, European Commission.

Speakers in the room agreed that a closer collaboration between the EU and its Members States is crucial to achieve better health for all. As Mrs Pilar Farjas Abadía, the Spanish Secretary of State for Health and Consumers, said, “Spain looks forward to further collaborating with the EU and its Member States in the framework of the EU semester and Europe 2020 to support efforts to improve public health, provide universal access to healthcare for all European citizens and further promote health and disease prevention.”

  • The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

The European public health community is deeply concerned that decades of hard-fought public health gains may be set back if the TTIP is not negotiated in a way that protects social safeguards and health (3). These include concerns over technical barriers to trade, intellectual property rights and drug patenting, challenges to the way that the EU and Member States regulate on food safety, chemicals, alcohol and public services. Yet Mr Ignacio Garcia Bercero, director at DG TRADE and the EU Chief Negotiator on TTIP, believes that the TTIP will be able to both promote economic growth and protect social rights. As he said, “I am convinced that we can achieve an ambitious TTIP agreement that fully respects our legislative framework and protects public health in the EU.”

As Peggy Maguire, EPHA President concluded, "without the involvement of the health community and proper consideration of health impacts, the TTIP risks undermining social and public health safeguards. The TTIP negotiators should uphold the European values of democracy and human rights in their negotiations, including the right to health. This trade pact must not uphold mechanisms that empower firms to sue governments outside of national or European legal structures."

  • Contact information

Javier Delgado Rivera EPHA Communications Coordinator Email: or Phone: +32 (0)2 230 3076.

  • Notes to editors

(1) See the agenda of EPHA’s 5th Annual Conference

(2) EPHA facts and figures – the impact of the crisis on health

(3) [Joint press statement] The European Commission must not trade off our crown jewels when negotiating the EU-US trade and investment deal.

- EPHA 5th Annual Conference. Media mentions

- Check the event photos

The conference’s presentations are available below:

Johan P. MACKENBACH- Professor of Public Health and Chair of the Department of Public Health at Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam

Roberto BERTOLLINI - Director, WHO Office at the European Union

Christina PAPANIKOLAOU - Secretary General for Public Health, Greece

Anna GLAYZER - Consumer International Global Programme Manager for nutrition and food safety

Franco SASSI – Senior Health Economist, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Sofie MANANTSOA – Medical Coordination, Médecins du Monde

Julien DIJOL- Policy Coordinator, Cecodhas Housing Europe

Linda MANS - Coordinator of health workers for all project, WEMOS

Matthias WISMAR - Senior Health Policy Analyst, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies

Jos G.H. DRAIJER – former Counsellor for Health, Welfare and Sport at the Netherlands Permanent Representation to the EU

Rita BAETEN - European Social Observatory (OSE)

Pilar FARJAS ABADÍA - Secretary of State for Health and Consumers, Spain

Eleanor BROOKS – EPHA Researcher

Usman KHAN – Director, Modus Europe

Last modified on September 30 2014.