Europe's Political Economy

Coalition for Health, Ethics and Society (CHES)

The Coalition for Health, Ethics and Society (CHES) aims to promote a multi-stakeholder dialogue between health and non-health practitioners on topical health issues. CHES events and publications pay particular attention to ethical aspects of health and issues regarding access, affordability and patient choice.

CHES is a joint initiative by the EPC and Johnson & Johnson. Co-founded by Johnson & Johnson in 2002, it was formerly housed at the Madariaga European Foundation. Its activities are governed by a Steering Committee and managed by the EPC. CHES is independent of all stakeholders.

A series of dialogues are organised each year within the CHES framework. In the last few years, the CHES activities have been organised around annual themes. In 2010, the focus was on Health innovation and in 2011-2012, on Healthy and active ageing. In 2013-2014, the overall theme is Economics of health and healthcare.

Some speakers at CHES events have previously included Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation; John Dalli, former EU Health Commissioner; Paola Testori-Coggi, Director-General of the Health and Consumers Directorate General at the European Commission as well as Robert Madelin, Director-General of Information Society and Media Directorate General at the European Commission. Reports summarising public CHES events can be found here.

Theme in 2014: Economics of health and healthcare

The economic crisis has had and will continue to have an impact on Europeans' health. First of all, it is increasing poverty, unemployment and stress, which all have a negative impact on health. But there are also wider negative impacts: in the last few years, the need to reduce budgetary deficits has led to a slowdown, and sometimes even reduction, in health spending in many EU member states. While this may help to save costs in short-term, the medium and long-term costs can be significant for society and economy if these developments lead to deteriorating health outcomes.

Europe cannot afford to make such a mistake. It is more important now than ever to promote smart investments in health and reflect on how we could use the crisis to make Europe healthier and its health systems more sustainable. This is urgent, as the demographic change is already creating further strains on European healthcare systems.

As the economic governance framework of the EU and the European Semester, which reviews and helps to coordinate member states' macro-economic, budgetary and structural reform policies, is paying increasing attention to health system reforms, these developments should not go unchecked. Assessing the country-specific recommendations, making recommendations for improvement and evaluating the real as well as possible impacts across the EU is needed.

Altogether, more discussion is needed about the relationship between performance and spending within healthcare systems; what makes smarter spending; how to promote more efficient health systems while meeting people’s healthcare needs; what is the value of health, healthier workers, healthier society; and how could we ensure that cutting health care costs is not done without understanding and estimating the medium and long-term impacts on people’s health. These are some of the questions which the CHES discussions hope to address also in 2014.

Chair of the Steering Committee
Hans Martens, European Policy Centre

Steering Committee Members
Roberto Bertollini, World Health Organisation (WHO)
Nicola Bedlington, European Patients' Forum
Florence Bertelleti, Smoke Free Partnership
Isabel de la Mata, European Commission
Christine Marking, External Health Policy Advisor
Linda Nielsen, University of Copenhagen
John Wynn Owen, expert and former leader of the Nuffield Trust
Willy Palm, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies
Mark Pearson, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Michael Rogers, External Health Policy Advisor
Tinne Vandensande, King Baudouin Foundation
Zeger Vercouteren, Johnson & Johnson

Annika Hedberg, Senior Policy Analyst

For more information, please contact
Annika Hedberg, Senior Policy Analyst
Tel: +32 (0)2 286 93 75

In this programme


Coalition for Health, Ethics and Society (CHES)