New EU global health strategy: A recalibrated agenda

Briefing 25-01-2023

On 30 November 2022, 12 years after the adoption of the first strategy on the EU's role in global health in 2010, the European Commission unveiled the EU global health strategy with the overarching goal of improving global health security and ensuring better health for all. The document takes stock of lessons learnt from the pandemic and guides EU action in an evolving landscape of threats and opportunities, including towards reasserting responsibility for attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – currently unfinished business. The strategy constitutes the external dimension of the European health union and is a cornerstone of the Global Gateway strategy. It not only relaunches the EU's global health agenda but also recalibrates the EU's approach to global health, by positioning it as an essential pillar of EU external policy, a critical geopolitical sector and a central aspect of EU strategic autonomy. The strategy suggests a framework leading up to 2030 and focusing on three policy priorities: better health throughout life; strengthened health systems and universal health coverage; and action to prevent and combat health threats. The strategy also outlines 20 guiding principles and concrete lines of action, and establishes a new monitoring framework. The strategy was widely welcomed by stakeholders; they generally approved the fact that, unlike its 2010 predecessor, it goes beyond portraying global health through the development policy lens. However, certain stakeholders raised concerns about the lack of focus on climate action and the lack of specific provisions on access and equity, for instance. The importance of ensuring appropriate financing, efficient implementation and monitoring were often underlined. Following the adoption of the strategy by the Commission, the Council is set to tailor the approach through the adoption of conclusions. These are likely to focus on the strategy's implementation and monitoring, and on matters of accountability. In parallel, the European Parliament is expected to take a stance on the strategy with a non-legislative resolution. The EU's finalised approach to global health will then require strong political leadership and efforts to maintain the momentum needed to deliver results.