The last five years have been difficult for many people living in Europe. Unemployment, cuts to social support, lack of access to finance and the impacts of austerity have taken their toll on people, their health and their faith in the political processes and even democracy. In its Manifesto for the European Parliament elections, the European Public Health Alliance calls on political parties and individual Members of the European Parliament (MEP) candidates to ensure that health and well-being in Europe are ranked as high as they are valued.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to endorse our Manifesto (supported by more than 180 MEPs and MEP candidates). If you would also like to provide us with a quote (which we can draft for you) on your support to EPHA’s Election Manifesto, this would also be welcomed.
The 2014-2019 legislative term presents the opportunity for the European Parliament to repeat its commitment to the well-being and health of people living in Europe by pushing these priorities up the political agenda. As we have seen, the European project has been under threat, but bringing the activities of the European Union in line with the priorities of its people is essential for both a democratically accountable Europe, as well as one that genuinely builds an economy which serves its people and the environment they live in.
We need strong leadership and a strong vision to reconnect European citizens to decision-making processes in the EU. Health, including mental health, is consistently identified among top areas of concern for European populations: to demonstrate the relevance of the EU to its citizens, Europe must deliver on the issues that matter to citizens, and not just to markets.
1. Refocus Europe’s Business Plan on to the well-being of people
EPHA calls on MEP candidates to ensure peoples’ health and well-being are properly incorporated in a strong vision for Europe. MEP candidates are asked to commit to a Europe 2020 strategy which prioritises and delivers on people’s health and well-being. ‘Business as usual’ is not delivering for Europe, nor for people living in Europe. To reach the goal of smart, sustainable, inclusive growth and fulfill targets such as lifting 20 million Europeans out of poverty, employing 75% of the active population, and reducing school drop-out rates below 10%, we need to ensure we are using tools that achieve these objectives and targets and not undermine them.
2. Create a people-centric economy: quality work for all
EPHA calls on MEP candidates to support a shift in the design and governance of the European economy. Health is not only a by-product of economic development, but one of its key components. Good health contributes to better overall outcomes in productivity; investment in health promotion, disease/injury prevention and high quality health services act as a driver for sustainable development. At the same time, quality employment is vital for health. In order to achieve this objective, fair employment and good working conditions for all are necessary. All segments of the economy, should be supported, including informal carers, who should be given the opportunity for flexible working arrangements. We need to ensure that we shape our economy to deliver the society we want, and not shape society in pursuit of economic objectives.
3. Create an inclusive, sustainable society
EPHA calls on MEP candidates to support the achievement of an inclusive economy that delivers better health. Cohesive and sustainable communities that enable and promote healthy behaviours are key through: accessible and affordable public transport; universal access to healthcare; quality, affordable and safe housing; sustainable and environmentally responsible energy; and healthy food supply sources. All of which provide vast social benefits that go some way to protecting health.
4. Strong public-interest based health policy
Healthy individuals are better equipped to smoothly transition into the job market and remain cognizant of relevant skills. Economic activity should promote well-being, social inclusion and better health for public and healthcare professionals alike. EPHA calls on MEP candidates to prioritise health and social outcomes, rather than sacrifice these in pursuit of narrow economic interests. The economy is there to serve the well-being of people and society; people and society are not merely products of our economy. Europe’s 500 million population are more than consumers, workers and drivers of growth; ensuring a healthy population is an essential part of both economic and social success.
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