Supporting health systems in Europe: added value of EU actions?

Health Econ Policy Law. 2014 Jan;9(1):49-69. doi: 10.1017/S1744133113000273. Epub 2013 Aug 22.


Since the start of the economic crisis, the European Union's (EU's) predominant discourse has been austerity and fiscal consolidation. The detrimental effects on Europe's health systems and the health status of its citizens are well described. However, little is known about the emerging EU-level initiatives to support national health systems handle the challenges of efficient care provision and system reorganisation aimed to meet their future needs. This review analyses the manner, conditions and prospects of such EU support. First, health system objectives are increasingly entering the EU health policy agenda. Second, professional and patient mobility provisions may support member states (MS) in copying with crisis related health challenges but can potentially acerbate them at the same time. Third, in recent initiatives health system goals are more closely tied to the EU's economic growth narrative. And fourth, health system issues are taken up in existing EU-level structures for debate and exchange between MS. In addition, the design of some policies may have the potential to intensify socioeconomic and health inequalities rather than ameliorate them.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / economics*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Economic Recession
  • Europe
  • European Union / economics*
  • Financial Support
  • Health Care Reform / economics*
  • Health Policy / economics*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Medical Tourism / economics
  • Medical Tourism / trends
  • National Health Programs / economics*
  • National Health Programs / organization & administration