Why ambitious funding for the ESF+ Health Strand is needed

We, as a group of patient and public health civil society organisations and advocates, representing many diverse networks of European citizens concerned with health and wellbeing , come united in welcoming the position of the European Parliament on the European Commission proposal on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) to improve and strengthen its health angle. We urge the Council and its Working Party on Structural Measures, responsible for the ESF+ file, to uphold the improvements to the Health Strand suggested by the European Parliament.

We are pleased to see that elected representatives of EU citizens decided not only to increase the amount dedicated to the Health Strand to 0,036% of the 2021-2027 EU budget , but also voted in favour of a stronger EU role in health. Health civil society groups had expressed their strong concerns over the Commission’s original proposal to cut health funding by 8% compared to the 2014-2020 period in the new merged ESF+, while at the same time expanding the scope of the programme. Concerned by these developments, we stress that, as never before, a more ambitious funding for the Health Strand is needed if we want to seriously tackle the increase in chronic and non-communicable diseases and widening health inequalities in Europe today and in the coming period.

The Parliament’s proposed amendments reflect important health priorities highlighted by health civil society, such as:
1. Establishing a Steering Board on Health ;
2. Mainstreaming health in all EU policies and calling for systematic health impact assessment of EU policies ;
3. Calling for a Public Health Strategy ;
4. Ensuring coherence and synergies between the Health Strand and other relevant elements of the next EU budget, including Horizon Europe, InvestEU and European Structural Investment Funds
5. Strengthening public health civil society, including European umbrella organisations ;
6. Calling for systematic health impact assessment of EU policies .

We encourage Member States to swiftly support the health-friendly amendments introduced by the Parliament during the inter-institutional negotiations on the ESF+ in order to prioritise health, equity and wellbeing in the next EU budget.


Alzheimer Europe
European AIDS Treatment Group
European Federation of Allergy and Airwaves Diseases Patients’ Association
European Public Health Alliance
EURORDIS-Rare Disease Europe
Global Health Advocates
Health Action International
HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje
International Federation of Anthroposophical Medical Associations
Smoke Free Partnership