BACKGROUND: Competency-based education is increasingly popular, especially in the area of continuing professional development. Many competency frameworks have been developed; however, few address leadership competencies for European public health professionals. The aim of this study was to develop a public health leadership competency framework to inform a leadership curriculum for public health professionals. The framework was developed as part of the Leaders for European Public Health project-supported by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme. METHODS: The study was carried out in three phases: a literature review, consensus development panel and Delphi survey. The public health leadership competency framework was initially developed from a literature review. A preliminary list of competencies was submitted to a panel of experts. Two consensus development panels were held to evaluate and make changes to the initial draft competency framework. Then two rounds of a Delphi survey were carried out in an effort to reach consensus. Both surveys were presented through Survey Monkey to members of the Association of the Schools of Public Health in the European Region Working Group on Innovation in Public Health Teaching and Education. RESULTS: The framework was developed consisting of 52 competencies organized into eight domains: Systems Thinking; Political Leadership; Collaborative Leadership: Building and Leading Interdisciplinary Teams; Leadership and Communication; Leading Change; Emotional Intelligence and Leadership in Team-based Organizations; Leadership, Organizational Learning and Development and Ethics and Professionalism. CONCLUSION: The framework can serve as a useful tool in identifying gaps in knowledge and skills, and shaping competency-based continuing professional development leadership curricula for public health professionals in Europe.