The European Semester and health equity Findings from the Recovery and Resilience Plans in eight EU Member States

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Key findings from interviews with experts

  • The Recovery and Resilience Plans offered a good opportunity for the development of innovative projects, where resources were previously lacking.

  • The Recovery and Resilience Plans did not entirely reflect the structure of the Belgium federal state, the different competencies, and the fact that not all issues presented are under the responsibility of the same actors.

  • Different levels of government and parallel processes that are in place to foster Flanders' Recovery and Resilience Plan made it difficult to understand the RFF process.

The Belgian Recovery and Resilience Plan A short overview

POLICY AREA 3: Social cohesion and community living
Education 2.0 (to improve inclusiveness of education systems, particularly digital skills. Equity-oriented) 412
Training and employment of vulnerable groups (to improve the participation of vulnerable groups to the labour market, boosting their employability and reducing digital inequalities) 165
Better social infrastructure to address lack of social housing for vulnerable groups and increase early childcare provision 227
Reforming the pension system and end of careers, to increase the activity and employment rate of older workers 0
POLICY AREA 3: Mobility
Cycling and walking infrastructure (to improve job growth and reduce health risks) 411
Modal shift towards better provision of public transport services (to improve public health and active lifestyles) 672
POLICY AREA 5: Economy of the future and productivity
Accessible labour market and training (to increase the employment rate through upskilling/reskilling, while ensuring an inclusive labour market) 371
Implementing a circular economy (to foster social resilience by creating local employment opportunities) 198

2022 Country specific recommendations for health equity

Each spring, the European Commission and European Council make Country Specific Recommendations to provide tailored advice to individual Member States on how to boost jobs, growth and investment, while maintaining sound public finances.

Belgian Country Specific Recommendations 2022 that are most relevant for health equity

1. […] targeted support to households and firms most vulnerable to energy price hikes
and to people fleeing Ukraine[…]. Expand public investment for the green and digital
transition and for energy security […]

3. Address labour shortages and skills mismatches […]


  • The number of doctors in Belgium has increased at a slower pace than in most EU countries in the last decade
  • Long-term care spending is expected to increase in the medium and long-term


  • High labor taxes and the complexity of the benefit system discourage more people from working or looking for a job
  • Inequality in education remains a concern
  • Poor labor market integration of vulnerable groups
  • Share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion remains high
  • Skills mismatches, high educational inequalities, and low adult learning participation pose key challenges


  • Further efforts are needed to put Belgium on track to becoming climate neutral
  • Belgium is lagging behind in the transition to renewable energy
  • Belgium’s climate resilience raises concern

Country Report 2022

The accompanying Country Report analyse each EU Member State’s key socioeconomic challenges with the aim of providing a framework for the coordination of social and economic policies across the European Union.

Belgium's 2022 report contained a number of elements that are directly relevant to health equity.

Project under the RRP

Development of a HSO benchmark for an integrated care system

The HSO benchmark project is based on the ‘integrated people-centred health systems’ standard. Established on international good practice and evidence on the quality and integration of good practices, the project will involve the development of a consortium and the identification and mapping of initiatives and projects related to the integration of the system. This includes identifying and supporting priority areas, capacity development in the Walloon region, and the evaluation of the integration and monitoring of progress made in the 2021 to 2023 report.

Read more about the project here.

Other projects under the Wallonian and Flemish Recovery and Resilience Plan

Suggestions for the future


  • Recognise and identify the relevant priorities in each individual region

  • Foster integrated and community care approaches

  • Improve autonomy of the elderly and reduce institutionalisation

  • Boost cross-project cooperation and synergies


  • Strengthen capacity planning and healthcare system sustainability

  • Improve digital and health literacy, particularly in vulnerable groups

  • Foster mental health and working condition of health workforce

“The Recovery and Resilience Facility has helped to launch a bottom-up strategy to learn about the real needs of the
population and health professionals to adapt our policies.”

– Expert from the Wallonian Agency for a Life of Quality (AViQ), Belgium

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.


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