European reference networks in health care

The development of European reference networks is one of the prime areas of cross-border cooperation between EU Member States in the Directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border health. They are meant to improve access to, and provision of, high-quality health care to all patients who have conditions requiring a concentration of specialized resources or expertise.

This new study describes how the concept of reference centres and networks is being used at national and regional level and outlines the key policy implications and challenges for building them at a European level. It was requested by the European Commission to support the expert working group on cross-border care in developing the delegated act that will define the scope and the criteria for these networks and the centres taking part in it.