Strengthening Public Health Across the European Union – EPHA’s advocacy ahead of the 2024 EU Elections

In 2024, 2 billion people around the world will be voting. The European elections will take place between the 6th and 9th of June 2024, and already promise to be decisive for the future of the EU. The next mandate will have to act on dire challenges and crises, from climate change, pollution, and their health impacts to future pandemics, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), non-communicable diseases (NCDs), but also, to tackling the ticking time bomb that is the health and care workforce crisis. These challenges now seem even more dire with the announced cuts to the EU4Health programme.

As a civil society organisation, EPHA seeks to inform the ongoing elections debate, and brings health to the table of the next mandate of the EU institutions. Last June, ahead of the elections, EPHA defined its priorities for the next mandate. In November, these were further developed into suggestions for concrete measures. Making health a priority, with a committed European Commission Vice President on health, wellbeing, and social rights, but also ensuring an ambitious budget for health, will be key in paving the way to a stronger Health Union promoting cross-sectoral approaches to tackle the determinants of health. The vote in the European Council to redeploy EU 1 billion from the EU4Health programme, 20% of its overall budget, only shows how crucial this call for an ambitious budget is. Our manifesto also calls for improved access to care, addressing inequities, supporting civil society, and providing healthy environments to ensure people are healthy (AMR, climate change, tackling NCDs,
ensuring sustainable food systems).

EPHA has as well coordinated the publication of the EU4Health Civil Society Alliance’s manifesto last June, gathering over 40 signatories, and calling for health to be a priority on the agenda, a stronger Health Union, and increased support for health civil society organisations.

EPHA has also organised the development of the DisQo manifesto, focusing on antidiscrimination and health equity. The manifesto calls in particular for racism and discrimination to be recognised as fundamental determinants of health, as well as equity and wellbeing. The document calls for stronger and more inclusive participation of racialised, marginalised and discriminated communities, particularly through cocreation mechanisms.

Finally, we have actively taken part in the Civil Society 4 EU campaign, calling for a reverse of the shrinking civic space and strengthened civil dialogue, and in the campaign of the Food Policy Coalition calling for truly healthy, sustainable, and resilient food systems.

In the run-up to the elections, we will remain committed to sharing these priorities to make sure they are part of the debate. Indeed, in the coming months, EPHA will carry out an analysis of the EU political parties’ manifestos and identify their plans and ambitions related to public health, especially in a multicrisis context. This analysis will show what the different political manifestos bring forward compared to international and EU objectives on public health, and in doing so will inform EU citizens on specific health topics.

Throughout this newsletter, we invite you to have a closer look at the different manifestos initiated or coordinated by EPHA. Our members’ elections advocacy activities are also presented below, as well as EPHA’s upcoming events and updates.

This June, put Health on the ballot.

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