Table of Contents
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The promotion of good public health requires not only public policies which support health, but also the creation of supportive environments in which living and working conditions are safe, stimulating, satisfying and enjoyable. The linkage of health, environmental and socio-economic improvements requires inter-sectoral efforts to ensure sustainable public health. Public health and economic growth are intimately interconnected. Old and new technologies – both industrial and non-industrial as well as the import, production and use of chemicals or toxic materialscan pose potential threats to public health. Public health ultimately depends on the ability to manage successfully the interaction between the physical, biological and the socio-economic environment.
Since health is determined to a large extent by factors outside the health area, an effective health policy must involve all relevant policy areas, in particular:
- social and regional policy
All EU policies are required by the EU treaty to follow this "Health in all Policies" (HIAP) approach. But to be fully effective, this approach needs to be extended to national, regional and local policies.
This impact area is further specified by the taxonomy terms: health and safety impacts through the socio-economic environment, health and safety impacts through the quality of the environment, energy/waste related health impacts, lifestyle-related health impacts, and health impacts for risk-groups.
The EU Health Strategy 'Together for Health: A Strategic Approach for the EU 2008-13' aims to deliver concrete health improvements in Europe. The Strategy focuses on 4 main principles and 3 strategic objectives for improving health in the EU and has received full support by all other EU institutions.
Numerous other policies related to Health and Safety can be found on the EU’s respective webpage:
Legal Basis for the Commission to act
Article 152 of the EC Treaty provides for health mainstreaming in other policy areas to the effect that a "high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Community policies and activities". Article 152 has a wider scope among the areas of cooperation between member states. It lists not only diseases and major health scourges but also, more generally, all causes of danger to human health, as well as the general objective of improving health.
EC competence on health can be divided into three elements:
- a Competence to harmonise Member States laws as regards safety and quality aspects ofblood, organs, tissues and cells (Article 152.4(a)) as well as the achievement of the internalmarket (Article 95).
- Competence to adopt incentive measures designed to protect and improve human health,excluding any harmonisation of laws and regulations of the Member States (Article152.4(c)).
- Competence to complement national health policies in order to improve public health,prevent human illness and diseases and obviate sources of danger to human health (Article152.1), as well as to encourage cooperation between Member States and with third countries(Article 152.2 and 152.3).
Depending on the concrete circumstances, the right addressed in article 35 EU Charter could be of relevance in this policy domain.
Health Impact Assessment (HIA)
From 2001 to 2004, the Commission financed a project to provide an in-depth analysis of HIA.
The main result is a HIA guideTranslations*.* which gives details of specific health impacts and assessment procedures and methods.
Health Systems Impact Assessment (HSIA)
In 2007, a Member State working group on health impact assessment and health systems has developed a HSIA methodology and an online EU Health Systems Impact Assessment tool for applying to all EU policies.
Other EU projects on Health Impact Assessment
- Policy health impact assessment for the EUTranslations*.* – standard generic methodology for HIA on EU policies and activities.
- Health impact assessment in new member and pre-accession countries – builds on experience from pre-2004 EU members and other countries
Effectiveness of health impact assessment – maps the use of HIA in EU and accession countries and evaluates both its effectiveness and the factors that enable or hinder its implementation.