Why is this topic a priority for the EU?

Healthcare, well-being and a healthy lifestyle are vital for all Europeans.

The EU and its member states coordinate and cooperate in the field of health. While national governments are primarily responsible for healthcare and medical services, European Union health policies can support and complement national policies by tackling common challenges such as pandemics or chronic diseases like cancer.

The EU policies and actions in public health aim to:

  • Protect and improve the health of EU citizens
  • Support the modernisation of health infrastructure
  • Prevent diseases and threats to health
  • Strengthen preparedness and response measures to cross-border health threats
  • Promote research

The EU works for better health protection through its policies, activities and funding instruments. These include among others the EU4Health programme, the building of a European Health Union and the EU Agenda on Drugs 2021-2025.

As part of EU efforts in the field of drugs, the EU is taking strategic and operational measures to reduce drug supply and demand by working closely with all partners at national and international level, EU institutions, bodies and agencies, as well as civil society organisations.

Relevant EU Policies and Objectives 


EU4Health is the EU’s direct response to COVID-19, which has had a major impact on medical and healthcare staff, patients and health systems in Europe. By investing €5.1 billion EU4Health will provide funding to EU countries, health organisations and NGOs.

The EU4Health programme aims to improve EU’s preparedness for major cross border health threats and strengthen health systems so they can face epidemics as well as long-term challenges.

EU4Health four key objectives are

  • to improve and foster health in the EU
  • to protect people in the EU from cross-border threats to health
  • to improve medicinal products, medical devices and crisis-relevant products
  • to strengthen health systems.

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

The EU4Health funding programme will invest in health threat surveillance and emergency stocks, promote disease prevention and ensure medicine supplies. Irish civil society organisations will have the opportunity to benefit from the health funds by applying to a range of open calls focussing on healthcare inequality or treating non-transmissible diseases.

European Health Union

The European Health Union is an initiative in which all EU countries prepare and respond together to health crises and to improve prevention, treatment and aftercare for diseases such as cancer.

Key initiatives are:

  • crisis preparedness and response measures
  • a pharmaceutical strategy to modernise the regulatory framework and support research and technologies that reach patients
  • a Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan to improve early cancer detection, ensuring equal access to cancer diagnosis and equal access to cancer treatment, and improving quality of life for cancer patients.

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

Civil society has played a crucial role in advocating for better health in the EU during the COVID-19 crisis. In a European Health Union that works for all Europeans, strong partnerships and collaboration with civil society organisations are needed. Civil society organisations can play a fundamental role in bridging the gap between the EU and its citizens. In parallel to feeding their views into the narrative, civil society organisations have the opportunity to apply for EU funding programmes under diverse open calls for projects:

EU Agenda and Action Plan on Drugs 2021-2025

The EU Agenda on Drugs 2021-2025 addresses the overarching issue of drugs in the EU. It has three primary objectives

  • to reduce drug supply through enhanced security,
  • to reduce drug demand through prevention and treatment
  • and to address drug-related harm by protecting drug users.

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

As part of EU efforts in the field of drugs, the EU is taking strategic and operational measures to reduce drug supply and demand by working closely with all partners at national and international level, EU institutions, bodies and agencies, as well as civil society organisations.

Civil society, in particular non-governmental organisations (NGOs), is an important partner in the implementation of EU drugs policy. The Commission has set up an Expert Group - the  Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD), which supports policy formulation and implementation through practical advice.

The following EU financial programmes include funding for drug-related projects to help implement the objectives set by the EU Drugs Strategy and to foster cross-border cooperation and research on drug issues:

Useful Links

Futurium: Futurium is a platform dedicated to Europeans discussing EU policies. Feel free to join any - or many of the groups of this platform.

The EU Health Policy Platform is an interactive tool to boost discussions about public health concerns, share knowledge and best practices.

Read more about EU4Health on the Health Research Board Ireland website.

Have Your Voice Heard

Decisions that are made at the EU level can have a big impact on our daily lives. At The Wheel we believe that citizens’ active participation in society is vital so they can play a part in influencing the decisions that affect them.

Here’s how you can connect with the EU:

Join is an online community of pan-European active citizens interested in learning from each other and finding common ground on EU issues. Created by the European Parliament during the 2019 European elections, encourages everybody to participate in democracy through virtual events and activities.   

In the lead-up to May 2019, volunteers helped raise awareness about the issues that matter most to them, their friends and families. From climate change to data protection, thousands of EU citizens throughout Europe organised activities, events and debates to remind others that participation in pan-European platforms is essential to dealing with today's challenges.

Check out the latest events organised by the European Parliament and the community, happening online and across Europe, by joining


Vote in European elections and get to know your MEPs 

Following the European elections in May 2019, 11 MEPs representing Ireland's three constituencies, Dublin, South and Midlands-North-West, took their seats in the European Parliament on 2 July 2019 for Parliament's 9th term. 

With the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 31 January 2020, Ireland gained an additional two MEPs.  Barry Andrews (Fianna Fáil/ Renew Europe), Dublin, and Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael/ EPP), South, took up their seats in the European Parliament on 1 February 2020. 

Who are your MEPs and how can you contact them? We have gathered the information for you here.

Engage in EU-funded projects  

Through involvement in EU-funded projects, you’ll deliver on current EU policy and programme goals while helping to shape future policy.

Learn more about the various EU funding programmes and the projects they support.

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