Health First Europe attended the European Policy Centre’s CHES Policy Dialogue on 7 June 2011 which brought together representatives from the Hungarian and Polish Presidencies to discuss health, employment and social policy issues related to active and health ageing. Hungarian Health Attaché Mr Lazlo Bencze and Polish Minister Counsellor Mr Janusz Galeziak discussed how their countries are tackling the demographic changes affecting Europe under the EU’s 2020 Strategy. The Hungarian Presidency also highlighted many of the outcomes of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council meeting on 6 June which saw the adoption of Council Conclusions on four policy issues – namely mental health and well-being, innovation in the medical device sector, childhood immunization and sustainable healthcare systems.

Explaining the main action of the Council Conclusions entitled “Towards modern, responsive and sustainable health systems,” Mr Bencze underlined the intention of the Hungarian Presidency is to produce and sustain a reflection process whereby Member States will continue to exchange best practices related to investment in healthcare systems. He declared that the focus or the process will be on regarding health as an investment rather than an expenditure and conceded that the content of this reflection process has not been fixed in order to develop it based on Member State needs and expectations over the coming year. A report on the reflection process will be released by the end of 2012 with hopes for continued cooperation through the Senior High Level Working Group extending beyond this deadline.

Additionally, Mr Galeziak provided further information regarding the aims of the Polish Presidency in terms of employment and social policy which will focus on the demographic future of Europe, an active EU and a citizen partnership. Mr Galeziak asserted that the Polish Presidency will look to take a more holistic approach to employment, education, health and other sectors through the principle of “solidarity.” The Polish Presidency’s overall goal is to utilise changing demographics in society as an opportunity to innovate in the organisation of society leading to greater job creation.

Though both the Hungarian and Polish Permanent Representations to the EU are sitting on the Steering Committee of the Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, neither representative could speak to any developments regarding the initiative. The European Commission briefed the EPSCO Council on its progress with the pilot partnership, but both speakers felt it too soon to consider possible outcomes of the Strategic Implementation Plan which is due to be completed by the Steering Committee before the end of 2011.