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Public health

Under Article 152 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, Community action has the aim of supplementing the action of Member States and mainly concerns encouraging cooperation between Member States in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. It involves the prevention of diseases, including drug abuse. It promotes research into their causes and their transmission combined with health information and education. It is also aimed at ensuring that requirements for the protection of human health are taken into account in defining and implementing all Community policies and actions.

The Lisbon Treaty also slightly reinforces the competences of the European Union in terms of health policy. However, subsidiarity is still to be applied in this field. The Union may now:

  • take measures relating to the monitoring of serious cross-border threats to health, alerts in the event of such threats and the fight against these threats,
  • encourage cooperation between Member States in order to improve the complementarity of their health services in border regions,
  • adopt measures aimed at combating smoking and alcohol abuse.

The Community's public health objectives are pursued by Community action programmes in the field of public health. Actions developed under these programmes are mainly directed at information, the ability to respond to health threats and the prevention of illnesses and diseases. The second programme of Community action in the field of health (2008-2013) entered into force on 1 January 2008. It has a budget of EUR 321 500 000. The programme pursues three main objectives:

  • to improve citizens' health security,
  • to promote health, including the reduction of health inequalities,
  • to generate and disseminate health information and knowledge.

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