European Commission (EC)

WHO and the European Commission: a partnership for health

Developments in recent years have been rich in opportunities, underlining the importance of cooperation in global health to address health challenges.

The strategic partnership between WHO and the European Commission has consolidated and expanded over the past years with the commitment to promoting and improving human health in the European Region as well as globally.

This cooperation between both organizations respects the strengths of and complementarities with the shared aim of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by making the greatest possible contribution to improving health outcomes.

Moreover, the Financial and Administrative Framework Agreement between the European Commission and the United Nations (FAFA) was signed in 2003 and further updated in 2014.

The framework of collaboration

The exchange of letters of 14 December 2001 sets out the framework for cooperation between the European Commission and WHO as well as its objectives, priorities, areas of collaboration, procedures, activities and practical arrangements for its implementation.

The agreement linked a number of priority areas including:

  • health information
  • communicable diseases
  • tobacco control
  • environment and health
  • sustainable health development
  • health research.

This framework of cooperation, which remains valid, invites both organizations to review ongoing cooperation and future plans of work, in order to take stock and further enhance cooperation on an annual basis and/or when necessary. These regular Senior Official Meetings (SOM) take place with the political and strategic oversight of WHO Director-General, WHO Regional Director for Europe and the European Commissioner in charge of public health.

The WHO-European Commission cooperation was further developed in the Moscow Declaration of September 2010 seeking to strengthen policy dialogue and technical cooperation on public health.

In 2011, the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, was given the responsibility to lead relations with the European Union and its institutions for all of WHO.

The most recent SOM was held in Geneva, on 29 June 2018. The meeting covered a range of topics, including universal health coverage, health emergencies, immunization, antimicrobial resistance, air quality and more. The implementation of the 2015 Vilnius Declaration, which sets out the basis of the ongoing cooperation between the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) and WHO/Europe will be discussed over the coming year.