The European Commission is responsible for developing and implementing legislation and Treaty agreements. In the field of health and healthcare, the European Commission is represented by the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG Sante) and the Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency (Chafea). These two organizations work closely together.

DG Sante

DG Sante defines policy priorities, drafts legislative proposals, develops the EU health programmes and presents its activities in a yearly work plan. This work plan covers the priorities and criteria for the funding of health projects. DG Sante also communicates with the individual Member States and monitors each Member State’s adherence to Treaty agreements and legislation. DG Sante consults a wide variety of stakeholders when constructing new legislative proposals on health or consumer protection.

DG Sante has +- 960 staff members (around 660 in Brussels, 120 in Luxembourg and 180 in Grange, Ireland).


Chafea is an executive agency and responsible for implementing the EU Health Programme, the Consumer Programme and the Better Training for Safer Food Initiative. Chafea manages relations with some 2800 beneficiaries and contractors involved in approximately 400 projects in the field of health, consumer protection and food safety. Chafea publishes calls for project proposals, evaluates incoming proposals, negotiates with and contracts tenderers, distributes operation grants and subsidizes health projects and joint actions, monitors project progress, and assists in the dissemination of project outcomes.

Chafea’s headquarters are situated in Luxembourg. The Agency has approximately 50 employees and an annual administrative budget of 7.2 million euro.

The third EU Health Programme (2014-2020)

The third EU health programme is the most important tool of the European Commission to operationalise the EU health strategy. Furthermore, the health programme represents the continuous effort that is needed to meet the requirements of Article 168 of the TFEU. For the third EU health programme, Chafea has 449,4 million euro in grants to allocate amongst various projects in the period 2014-2020. Projects qualifying for a grant should contribute to at least one of the four overarching objectives of the current EU health programme.

The overarching objectives of the third EU health programme are:

  1. Promoting health and healthy lifestyles, and preventing diseases through a ‘health in all policies’ approach.
  2. Protecting EU citizens from serious cross-border health threats.
  3. Promoting sustainable, efficient and innovative health systems.
  4. Facilitating access to better and safer healthcare for EU citizens.


A concise factsheet on the third EU health programme can be found here.