Stronger Europe, European Health Union

The overall objective of the project is strengthening of European Union through evidence-based increase of the role – The EU institutions plays in health matters (European Health Union).

We cannot wait for the end of the pandemic to repair and prepare for the future. We will build the foundations of a stronger European Health Union in which 27 countries work together to detect, prepare and respond collectively.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, speaking at the World Health Summit (25 October 2020)


The European Commission is building a strong European Health Union, in which all EU countries prepare and respond together to health crises, medical supplies are available, affordable, and innovative, and countries work together to improve prevention, treatment and aftercare for diseases such as cancer. The European Health Union will

  • better protect the health of our citizens
  • equip the EU and its Member States to better prevent and address future pandemics
  • improve resilience of Europe’s health systems

Lessons from the coronavirus pandemic

The pandemic shows the importance of coordination among European countries to protect people’s health, both during a crisis and in normal times when we can tackle underlying health conditions, invest in strong health systems, and train the healthcare workforce. The European Health Union will improve EU-level protection, prevention, preparedness, and response against human health hazards.

Key initiatives

In its first proposal on a European Health Union, the Commission focused on crisis preparedness and response measures such as:

  • strengthening coordination at EU-level when facing cross-border health threats;
  • revising the mandates of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and of the European Medicines Agency to provide stronger surveillance, scientific analysis and guidance before and during a crisis;
  • setting up a new EU agency for biomedical preparedness.

The pharmaceutical strategy aims to modernise the regulatory framework and support research and technologies that reach patients. It rests on four pillars:

  • Fulfilling unmet medical needs
  • Supporting a competitive and innovative European pharmaceutical industry
  • Enhancing resilience through diversified supply chains, environmental sustainability, and crisis preparedness
  • Promoting high standards for medical products globally

Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan aims to prevent cancer and ensure that cancer patients, survivors, their families and carers can enjoy a high quality of life. By tapping into a broad array of EU policies, notably digitalisation, research and innovation, the cancer plan helps EU countries turn the tide against cancer. It includes actions and flagship initiatives covering the entire disease pathway:

  • prevention
  • early detection
  • diagnosis and treatment
  • quality of life for cancer patients and survivors