Exchange of views: NAT Commission, 2 February 2017

Adoption at NAT Commission, 30 March 2017

Forseen adoption: 11 May 2017

Key points:

  • Local and regional authorities should act as the guarantors of equal access to healthcare, creating new models for collaborative governance where institutions, businesses, civil society organisations and individuals can contribute to the designing of a fair, shared, harmonious urban system;
  • Particular focus is needed on sustainable investment, boosting innovation, empowering people, promoting health and preventing disease through an analysis of social, economic and environmental determinants and risk factors that may impact health;
  • It is necessary to identify strategies for raising awareness of the importance of promoting health in urban settings among governments, regions, cities and individuals.
  • An appropriate food culture and food education should be promoted through targeted dietary programmes (appropriate school/workplace menus) and educational events on the ground, thereby preventing the rise in obesity rates and generating savings on health and social resources within national healthcare systems;
  • Access to sports and exercise for all people should be widened and improveed, in accordance with the principle of “citizenship sport”, by encouraging the mental and physical development of young people and increase inclusion of old people in cities;

I never tire repeating this old adage 'prevention is better than cure'. Where better to integrate this mantra into real policies if not in urban areas given that we estimate that by 2020, almost 80% of EU citizens will be living in cities? Health and lifestyle equipment such as pedestrian zones and cycle paths or food procurement schemes for schools and healthier canteens are often in the hands of the municipalities and regions.

Also, it is in our regions that we are particularly well situated to address health inequalities by reaching out to young mothers, women on lower incomes, ethnic minorities and the elderly. These are groups that do not always benefit from equal access to health promotion initiatives. Locally developed projects can make real difference involving community actors such as social workers, midwives, chefs, charities and hopefully more and more businesses bringing about real, sustainable change.

The more EU cities and regions work together, learning from each other, the more we can all benefit from targeted, modern, sustainable community action that brings us all together to promote healthier lifestyles and live longer in a better health.

Vytenis Andriukaitis
EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety

See all articles

Progress of this opinion

step 1

Appointment of the reporter


step 2

First discussion


step 3

Adoption in the commission


step 4

Final adoption in the plenary

In Progress