05 July 2021

While the EU4Health work programme 2021 represents a significantly big health budget for a single year, EFA and the wider public health community is concerned by the prospect of a reduced role for civil society: the EU choice of instruments to finance actions on the EU4Health programme are not designed to support health groups advocacy work, but instead seek almost exclusively the operationalisation of the programme.

EFA’s concerns were addressed in early June to Health and Food Safety Commissioner Kyriakides: along with the 23 other public health NGOs who are part of the EU4Health Civil Society Alliance. With the support of 56 MEPs, EFA co-signed an open letter laying out why civil society should be supported via Operating Grants (core funding for core advocacy). Operating grants are the only EU financial mechanism that can ensure EU civil society sustainability and capacity to deliver. The letter outlines how Operating Grants support civil society organisations to maintain their role as key partners in EU health policymaking, including helping in the implementation of the programme’s objectives.

The Commission’s decision to abandon the tool of Operating Grants in favour of Action Grants that are limited both in number and scope, is therefore expected to jeopardise civil society organisations’ long-term ability to engage, participate, form networks, and build capacity at both the EU and national level for the implementation of the EU’s Health Programme.

Following the publication of the Work Programme, EFA supports a joint statement urging the Commission to ensure that a broader range of calls are opened for applications from NGOs in the course of 2021. The statement also calls to ensure that Core Operating Grants are restored as a financing mechanism in the Work Programme of 2022, thus providing a strong foundation for NGO contributions.

You can find the joint statement here.

EFA, together with the European Patients’ Forum (EPF), has been calling on the European Commission to revise the financing mechanisms to better support European level health civil society, especially NGOs, since the European Commission sudden change of accessibility criteria in 2015.