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

  • Key issues were missing from the Country Reports, such as staff shortages in the health and education sectors.

  • Whilst health promotion and prevention receive more attention in the Country Report as well as Swedish politics, more work must be done to embed this into policy.

  • The recovery plan had not been a priority within the Swedish agenda and as a result many actors have felt excluded from the design and implementation process.

The Swedish Recovery and Resilience Plan A short overview

Austria total value of RRP
Austria RRP share for climate
Austria RRP share for digital
POLICY AREA 1: Green recovery
Climate step 5,350
Support for improved housing efficiency 4,050
POLICY AREA 3: Demographic challenges
The elderly care lift 458
Protected title for assistant nurses 0.0
Prolonged working life and altered age limits in social security and tax systems 0.0
POLICY AREA 2: Education and transition
More places in regional adult education 930
More places in adult vocational training 1,060
Resources to meet the demand at universities and college 3,120
Increased financial support to migrants enrolled at vocational education and Swedish language education 0.0
POLICY AREA 4: Digitalisation
Develop administrative digital infrastructure 210
POLICY AREA 5: Growth and housing
Investment in support for rental accommodation and student housing 3,100

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.

Swedish 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. Reduce the impact that pupils’ socio-economic and migrant backgrounds have on their
educational outcomes by providing equal access opportunities to schools and by addressing
the shortages of qualified teachers. […]


  • Life expectancy in Sweden is higher than in the EU as a whole, but fell in 2020 due to COVID-19
  • The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for skilled nurses


  • Educational outcomes are good, but affected by inequalities, especially related to migrant background
  • Despite a slight decline in 2020, Sweden has seen increasing income inequality in recent years
  • The labour market in Sweden is recovering but important challenges remain in terms of long-term unemployment
  • The housing market faces several challenges


  • Sweden has an ambitious national climate strategy
  • Sweden is one of the EU frontrunners in terms of uptake of zero emission vehicles
  • Few countries consume more energy per capita than Sweden

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.

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

Main elements of the plan

Pillar 1 – Green reform, €1.5b: Pillar 1 aims to support sustainable growth and adjustment to green policies. Measures included in the pillar will promote sustainable transport, energy efficiency of apartment buildings and investments in new technology with the aim of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and to preserve biological diversity.

Pillar 2 - Education and transition, €468.8m: The objective of this pillar is to increase employment opportunities by increasing the human capital of the unemployed and enhancing the shift to a more digital society. This will be achieved through a series of reforms and investments, primarily targeting adult vocational training and education.

Pillar 3 – Demographic challenges, €421.1m: Pillar 3 focuses on tackling societal challenges, particularly related to the demographic shift. Reforms under this pillar aim to improve the quality and access to elderly care, extend working life, and strengthen measures to protect against money laundering and financial terrorism.

Pillar 4 – Digitalisation, €424.8m: Pillar 4 targets the expansion of digital infrastructure and increasing the efficiency of public administration by taking advantage of digital tools. Investments will be used for broadband expansion, the development of administrative digital infrastructure, and research in the field of digitisation.

Pillar 5 – Growth and housing, €275.8m: Pillar 5 aims to enhance private investments, increase the number of housing developments, and enhance the operations of the housing market.

Suggestions for the future

  • Increase cooperation at the national level around the country report and CSRs between the government and social partners

  • Engage more actors from the public at local and regional level in the design and implementation of the recovery plans

  • Embed health promotion and prevention into policy

  • Address the shortages of workers in health and education sectors

“Whilst the recovery plans are a new approach for more sustainable policy, there are several complications that arise without clear guidance on the future of the EU. Indeed, now that the Lisbon 2020 strategy is over, we are missing a new long-term, overarching vision on where to go.”
Expert at The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, Sweden

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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