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European Commission - Statement

Life expectancy in the EU still on the rise: launch of the "Health at a Glance: Europe 2014" report

Brussels, 03 December 2014

Joint statement by Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, and Angel Gurría, Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

“We are delighted to unveil the comparative data on health and health systems covering all 28 EU Member States contained in the Health at a Glance: Europe 2014 report.

The report highlights key trends in health status, health spending, health inequalities, health determinants and health care resources as well as quality of care and access to care. It also explores the impact of the economic crisis on health.

There are many interesting findings in the report. For example, life expectancy is steadily increasing in the EU, reaching 79.2 years on average in 2012 (82.2 years for women and 76.1 for men) – an increase of 5.1 years since 1990.However, inequalities persist with a gap of 8.4 years between the highest and lowest Member State.

The chapter on health expenditure is extremely relevant, as although we are emerging from the economic crisis, the squeeze on health budgets continues in many European countries. Average health spending in the EU was 8.7% of GDP in 2012. Health spending per capita has decreased on average by 0.6% per year since 2009, adjusted for inflation.

The countries that reduced health spending made cuts mainly to fees paid to health providers, pharmaceutical spending and health workforce and salaries. However, regarding the health workforce in the EU, since 2000, the number of doctors per capita has increased in all EU countries except for France where it has remained stable, and the number of practising nurses has increased in all but two Member States.

Finally, overweight and obesity is a grave concern for the EU. 53% of adults are now either overweight or obese. Obesity, which presents even greater health risks than being overweight, currently affects one in six adult (16.7%) in the EU, an increase from one in eight a decade ago, with considerable variations between countries.

This state-of-play on Europe’s health is an important input for public debates on policies to improve population health and health system performance across Europe. It shows that EU policies and strategies are needed to promote healthy lifestyles, protect healthy living standards and improve the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of diseases in countries that are lagging behind. The beginning of a new Commission mandate, when EU added value to common health concerns is being discussed, is an opportune moment to release this data.

Our hope is that the Health at a Glance report will help stimulate further actions so that European citizens of all socio-economic backgrounds can enjoy longer, healthier and more active lives.”


Health at a Glance: Europe 2014 is a joint report of the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It presents key indicators of health and health systems in 35 European countries, including EU-28, candidate countries Montenegro, FYR of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, with the exception of Albania due to limited data availability, and three European Free Trade Association countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland). This third edition builds on the two previous editions in 2010 and 2012. The selection of indicators is based mainly on the European Core Health Indicators (ECHI), developed by the European Commission in co-operation with EU Member States. Health at a Glance is financed by a grant from the EU Health Programme.


For more key findings (fact sheet and infograph) and to read the full report, please see:


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