Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union

01 January 2024

On January 1, 2024, Belgium assumed the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union. During this six-month period, which will be marked by national and European elections, the Belgian Presidency will continue working on the long-term goals and policy objectives set out in the context of the trio presidencies of Spain, Belgium and Hungary.

According to the official programme, during its six-month mandate, Belgium will focus on the following topics and issues:

  • Defending the rule of law, democracy and unity
  • Strengthening competitiveness
  • Pushing a green and just transition
  • Reinforcing the social and health agenda
  • Protecting people and borders
  • Promoting a global Europe

The Belgian Presidency’s health agenda concentrates on three overarching themes: preparedness, care and protection. The presidency will aim to strengthen the EU’s resilience in the face of future health threats by reinforcing crisis management, supporting healthcare systems, and improving the security of medicines supply.

More specifically, the health agenda focuses on five strategic areas:

  • Preparedness: enhancing the EU’s health emergency preparedness and response governance framework.
  • Care: strengthening and supporting Member States’ health systems and health workforce strategies. This also includes developing proposals for a needs-driven approach for innovation and healthcare policy to better address unmet needs. Efforts will also be made to advance health promotion and disease prevention for improved population health.
  • Protection: working on the revised pharmaceutical legislation to provide faster access to high-quality, safe, affordable and greener medicines in all Member States. Beyond legislative endeavours, the Presidency will seek to strengthen the EU’s health security by effectively addressing medicines shortages. More broadly, the Presidency will focus on enhancing the EU’s strategic autonomy concerning medicines.
  • Finalisation of the legislation: finalising the European Health Data Space (EHDS) and completing any remaining work on the regulation on Substances of Human Origin (SOHO).
  • Health-in-all policies: highlighting the significance of health-in-all policies. Among others, mental well-being at work, equitable access to healthcare and health products, global health and research and development for pandemic preparedness

IDF Europe welcomes the Belgian Presidency’s programme that reflects some of the most pressing challenges health systems and people face today. We particularly support measures such as strengthening and supporting Member States’ health systems and health workforce strategies, better addressing unmet medical needs and ensuring equitable access to healthcare and health products.  The move towards a health-in-all policies approach is a significant step towards better policies to effectively addressing inequalities.

However, we regret the broader lack of attention to NCDs, in particular diabetes, which represents one of the main health challenges our society faces today. Acting on diabetes early means potentially reducing the number of people living with life-altering health complications, thereby bolstering the resilience of our healthcare systems. We call on the Belgian presidency to take into account the complexity of diabetes, consider diabetes as a marker of healthcare resilience and performance, and promote the development of European strategies in the field of NCDs and diabetes specifically. We call on the Presidency to recognise diabetes as one of the most pressing health challenges of our time – made even more urgent because of the permacrisis era we live in – and accelerate action to leave no-one behind.