The European Semester ‘Winter Package’

The “Winter Package” was published in March as part of the European Semester process – an annual cycle of European Union policy coordination that results in country specific recommendations at national level to bring Europe towards commonly agreed goals. Social issues such as social inclusion of people from disadvantaged backgrounds, healthcare provision and the level of social dialogue in a country are included in the analysis. Read on to find out more or click here to see the recommendations for your country.

Background: The European Semester is an annual cycle of policy coordination that results in country specific recommendations at national level to bring Europe towards commonly agreed goals. It was introduced in 2010, enabling the European Union Member States to coordinate their economic policies throughout the year and address economic challenges. In recent years, the European Semester has become more ‘social’, meaning that social issues such as social inclusion of people from disadvantaged backgrounds, healthcare provision, the level of social dialogue in a country etc. have been included in the analysis.

In March 2019 so called “Winter Package” was published. It includes elements dealing with health, social equity, cohesion, and wellbeing. It also sets out significant risks that should be addressed urgently and in strategic planning by European institutions and Member States. Click here to see the recommendations for your country.

Improvements have been noted regarding health system reforms in terms of better effectiveness, accessibility, and resilience. Many Member States are pursuing efforts to re-focus health systems towards preventive care, whilst bolstering primary care and better coordination across care settings.

At the same time, the Country Reports for many countries still highlight persisting inequalities in health opportunities and outcomes. As multiple sources of data show, life expectancy gains have slowed down, progress on healthy life expectancy has not caught up, unmet need for medical care remains up to five times higher for people living below the poverty line (this includes children) as well as the ability to pay for such treatment.

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