The Euro-REVES 2 project, 'Setting up of a coherent set of health expectancies for the European Union', was begun in 1998 under the European Health Monitoring Programme with the aim of selecting a concise set of instruments to simultaneously monitor mortality and the different facets of health. An in-depth analysis of the current health survey instruments in Europe together with a review of past research, found that, although harmonization in instruments appeared to exist superficially, major differences existed. Four instruments have been recommended (where necessary using existing instruments with modifications suggested by the research literature) covering physical and sensory functional limitations, activity restriction, self-perceived health and mental health. Additionally a new global activity limitation indicator (GALI) has been developed. These instruments are firmly anchored to past research and the health concepts behind the indicators and their relevance to policy and guidelines for implementation are explicitly made. The second phase of the project will recommend further instruments, leading to health expectancies that cover all the conceptual framework of population health measurement. This will allow assessment of health inequalities between the European Union countries, an appreciation of the causes and the production of profiles for each country in terms of the various facets of health.