The European Semester process and health equity Findings from the Recovery and Resilience Plans in eight EU Member States
As Europe deals with the aftermath of the pandemic, climate crisis, global conflict, demographic change and technological revolution, people with the fewest resources are less able to cope and adapt, and wealth and health inequalities are widening.
The EU Recovery and Resilience Facility helps EU Member States to mitigate these multiple crises, facilitate a green and digital transition, and promote wellbeing and equality.
For the 2022 analysis of the European Semester, EuroHealthNet spoke to 24 public health experts in eight EU Member States about the use of the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility and its impact on health equity and wellbeing
Key messages and recommendations
The Recovery and Resilience Facility helps EU Member States to mitigate the multiple crises that we are in, facilitate a green and digital transition, and promote wellbeing and equality through investments and reforms. This report offers insight on how EU Member States are using these funds, and shares many promising initiatives.
However, system reforms take time. The sustainability of these initiatives will largely depend on whether governments keep positioning health and wellbeing strongly as both a means to and an outcome of economic development.
Based on the findings of the cross-country analyses in this report, we make the following recommendations to EU Institutions and Member States on how they can improve health equity and wellbeing.
Recognise the value of public health, as part of wider health system, and recovery and resilience reform strategies. This includes strengthening mental health promotion and care, improving the attractiveness of careers in the health sector, investing in prevention and improving digital health literacy.
Facilitate and encourage better and more transparent communication among policy makers, professionals and public about how Recovery and Resilience Facility is being spent.
Develop an overarching Strategy for the European Union, that brings together all key policy objectives, and that could serve as a collective vision and guidance for the European Semester process and drive systemic change towards economies that generate wellbeing.
About this report
This year, EuroHealthNet’s analysis of the European Semester looks at the European Semester 2022 cycle and reflects on the first year implementing the Recovery and Resilience Plans (RRP).
Insights gathered from 24 experts in eight Member States (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden) illustrate programmes and initiatives financed as part of the RRPs, and how they instigated health system reforms while strengthening investments in public health, health promotion and disease prevention.
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The European Semester
The European Semester is the EU’s annual cycle of economic and social policy coordination. The Semester affects health care, early childhood education, unemployment, as well as social transfer and pension systems.
Similarly, the Semester is also a tool and a mechanism which can assist health agencies in their work to improve public health and act of the determinants of health. Therefore, it is essential they understand what it is and how to work with it.
The Recovery and Resilience Facility
In 2020 the European Semester was adapted to incorporate the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) - a €723.8 billion funding programme put in place by the EU - as a ‘stimulus package’ to help EU Member States recover from the impact of COVID-19.
To receive these funds, EU Member States prepared Recovery and Resilience Plans (RRPs), outlining how they would invest the funds by 2026, addressing the challenges identified by the European Semester process.
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This report was produced by EuroHealthNet, the European partnership of organisations, institutes, and authorities working on public health, disease prevention, promoting health and wellbeing, and reducing inequalities. We aim to tackle health inequalities within and between European States through action on the social determinants of health. Read more about us on our website.