In this article we argue that the Member States of the European Union (EU) have consistently, since its inception, developed a shared framework to measure, monitor and intervene to improve the health status of its population, while invoking the subsidiarity principle for the health sector. As a result, a European Health Union (EHU) has been emerging insidiously and consistently, following the concept of a system for health. Using the World Health Organisation Building Blocks Framework, we analyse the normative and institutional developments related to EU citizens' health that have created a de facto EHU. Developments towards an EHU remain unequally distributed among the different building blocks analysed. The existing EHU is the result of a fragmented and incremental process, mostly grounded in governance, health intelligence and services' development. Health crisis, the Commission's agenda-setting activities and market pressures have been the most important push factors for these step-by-step processes.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal Of Health Planning And Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • European Health Policy Theories
  • European Health Union
  • European System for Health
  • European Union


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