EU Country Specific Recommendations for health systems in the European Semester process: Trends, discourse and predictors

N. Azzopardi-Muscat*, T. Clemens, D. Stoner, H. Brand

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the framework of "Europe 2020", European Union Member States are subject to a new system of economic monitoring and governance known as the European Semester. This paper seeks to analyse the way in which national health systems are being influenced by EU institutions through the European Semester. A content analysis of the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) for the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 was carried out. This confirmed an increasing trend for health systems to feature in CSRs which tend to be framed in the discourse on sustainability of public finances rather than that of social inclusion with a predominant focus on the policy objective of sustainability. The likelihood of obtaining a health CSRs was tested against a series of financial health system performance indicators and general government finance indicators. The odds ratio of obtaining a health CSR increased slightly with the increase in level of general Government debt, with an OR 1.02 (CI: 1.01, 1.03; p = 0.007) and decreased with an increased public health expenditure/total health expenditure ratio, with an OR 0.89 (CI: 0.84,0.96; p = 0.001). The European Semester process is a relatively new process that is influencing health systems in the European Union. The effect of this process on health systems merits further attention. Health stakeholders should seek to engage more closely with this process which if steered appropriately could also present opportunities for health system reform. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-383
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Health policy
  • Health care reform
  • Health expenditures
  • European Union
  • European Semester
  • Country Specific Recommendations
  • Health systems


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