The Health Programme is a funding instrument to support cooperation among EU countries and underpin and develop EU health activities. The legal basis for the Health Programme is agreed with the European Parliament and the Council for a period of several years.

The EU is required to ensure that human health is protected across all policy areas, and to work with EU countries to improve public health, prevent human illness and eliminate sources of danger to physical and mental health.

The EU Health Programme outlines the strategy for ensuring good health and healthcare. It feeds into the overall Europe 2020 strategy which aims to make the EU a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy promoting growth for all – one prerequisite for which is good health. The Programme is focusing on major Commission priorities, such as:

  • Jobs, growth and investment (health of population and health care services as a productive factor for growth and jobs)
  • Internal market (for pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cross-border health care directive, and Health Technology Assessment)
  • Single digital market (including eHealth)
  • Justice and fundamental rights (fighting against health inequalities)
  • Migration policy
  • Security (preparedness and management of serious cross border health threats).

Third Health Programme (2014-2020)

Regulation (EU) 282/2014 is the legal basis for the current Health Programme. With a budget of €449.4 million and throughout 23 priority areas, the Health Programme serves four specific objectives:

  1. Promote health, prevent disease and foster healthy lifestyles through ‘health in all policies’,
  2. Protect EU citizens from serious cross-border health threats
  3. Contribute to innovative, efficient and sustainable health systems
  4. Facilitate access to high quality, safe healthcare for EU citizens.

How does it work

The Programme is implemented by means of annual work programmes agreed with countries on a number of annually defined priority actions and the criteria for funding actions under the programme. On this basis, the Consumers Health Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea) organises calls for proposals for projects and operating grants, as well as calls for joint action and tenders. Direct grants are signed with international organisations active in the area of health.

Proposals are evaluated by the Chafea, assisted by external experts. External experts are selected through calls for expression of interest.

Who can participate

All EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Serbia, Moldova and Bosnia & Herzegovina participate, meaning that entities registered there are also eligible to participate in the calls for proposals.

Organisations from other countries are also encouraged to get involved, however funding can not be awarded to them. Participation is open to a wide range of organisations, including:

  • Public authorities
  • Public sector bodies, in particular research and health institutions
  • Universities and higher education establishments
  • NGOs.

Funding mechanisms

There are two main funding mechanisms: grants and tenders. Grants for projects, operating grants, direct grants with international organisations and grants to EU authorities and bodies for co-financed actions (called joint actions).

The type of funding available for each action is set out each year in the work plan. Unless indicated otherwise (e.g. tenders), the basic principle is joint funding, with Commission grants covering a certain percentage of overall costs.

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