European Elections to Transform the Health Agenda

April 22, 2024

In the coming weeks, some of us might notice more electoral activities at the national and European levels. The European elections campaign will be in full swing before the 6-9 June 2024 elections. The result will definitely mean a change in the health agenda. The main political parties have already included topics such as cardiovascular and mental health in their manifestos. While it is our hope that European decision-makers will not waste the potential and momentum that was built by Europe’s Beating Cancer plan – a priority for the current European Commission – we remain realistic about the fact that the focus on cancer will fade away.

That is why it is even more important to elect health-conscious politicians to the European Parliament. A number of organisations have launched election manifestos, asking potential candidates to commit to prioritisation of health. We are a partner in several coalitions and wholeheartedly support their manifestos. Below we will attempt to summarise their and our policy asks from the future European Commission and the European Parliament.

Together with the European Patients Forum (EPF), we are calling on EU institutions to recognise the value of early and meaningful involvement of patient organisations in policy development, health research, and healthcare practice.

We expect EU institutions to actively seek structural input and collaboration from communities of patients, persons living with chronic conditions, and carers through their representative organisations. The EPF presents 10 fundamental principles of patient engagement that we fully support.

Over the last few years, we have cooperated closely with the United European Gastroenterology (UEG) association; we are proud co-signatories of an Open Letter to the EU leaders. The Open Letter calls for a stronger health policy environment to reduce the burden of digestive diseases across Europe; it recommends six policy interventions to improve digestive health in the EU. These recommendations reflect the latest available data on the social and economic burden of digestive diseases and cancers in Europe, published in the White Book 2 study. Ahead of the 2024 elections, UEG has created an interactive website with resources aimed at national-level campaigning towards EU election candidates. It is a great resource that we strongly recommend.

DiCE is also a partner of the EU4Health Civil Society Alliance. The 2024 election manifesto gathers 10 key priorities, focusing on strengthening EU policymaking in public health, delivering stronger policies improving public health, and breaking policy silos:

  1. The EU should scale up action to promote public, physical and mental health, prevention, and equity by establishing a dedicated Vice-President in the European Commission and providing health with a space and legislative powers in the European Parliament.
  2. Health promotion and prevention should have a budget allocated at the EU level and be reflected in investments and economic discourse.
  3. Through the adoption of a Civil Society Strategy, the EU should develop mechanisms for stronger co-creation of policies, programmes, and services, that allow for real empowerment of people and communities, including patient engagement.
  4. The EU should support and enable civil society space at the EU level and increase the participation of CSOs in policymaking across health and other sectors by ensuring dedicated funding mechanisms.
  5. The EU must urgently address the dire challenge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through a coherent framework for prevention and action.
  6. EU action should focus on addressing and eliminating health inequalities, eradicating discrimination, and promoting equal access to health and care.
  7. EU policies improving care for patients and strengthening healthcare systems should promote holistic, person-centred, and integrative healthcare.
  8. The EU should establish a true European Health Union.
  9. The EU must develop overarching actions fostering health-enabling environments.
  10. The EU should ensure that all policies consider impacts on mental health, physical health, and wellbeing.

We also partnered with the EU Health Coalition and are asking European politicians to recognise health & the life science sector as a central strategic pillar for Europe to ensure Europeans live healthier and more prosperous lives and the region regains its place at the forefront of innovation. The main recommendations for the forthcoming mandate are:

  • Make European health systems truly integrated and people-centred.
  • Invest in upskilling the European health workforce.
  • Reframe healthcare expenditure as an investment, not a cost.
  • Create the basis for Europe as a true research and innovation hub.
  • Create a health and life science office in the European Commission, reporting to a Vice President, to spearhead a coherent European strategy for this sector.

Digestive Cancer Europe supports all calls that will assist in improving the health policy agenda. Firstly, that will place health as one of the top policy priorities, not only in times of crises as we saw with COVID but permanently (even if it means Treaty change). Secondly, that will increase spending on badly needed research in cancer areas and create an ecosystem that fosters innovation, especially for digestive cancers. Thirdly, it will create sustainable healthcare systems across Europe. We would like European politicians to make it a reality that no matter where you are diagnosed with cancer, the system will guide you with compassion and ensure that the utmost is done to provide you with best-in-class treatment and care. This might sound like a dream, but after all, aren’t elections full of dreamers? We will support politicians who help us realise this dream for cancer patients.

Aleksandra Kaczmarek

In order to facilitate the use of our website, we use cookies.

Please confirm if you accept our tracking cookies. When declining the cookies, you can continue visiting the website without sending data to third party services. Read our complete cookie statement here.