The Global Health Policies of the EU and its Member States: A Common Vision?

Lies Steurs, Remco van de Pas*, Sarah Delputte, Jan Orbie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article assesses the global health policies of the European Union (EU) and those of its individual member states. So far EU and public health scholars have paid little heed to this, despite the large budgets involved in this area. While the European Commission has attempted to define the ‘EU role in Global Health’ in 2010, member states are active in the domain of global health as well. Therefore, this article raises the question to what extent a common ‘EU’ vision on global health exists.

This is examined through a comparative framing analysis of the global health policy documents of the European Commission and five EU member states (France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Denmark). The analysis is informed by a two-layered typology, distinguishing global health from international health and four ‘global health frames,’ namely social justice, security, investment and charity.

The findings show that the concept of ‘global health’ has not gained ground the same way within European policy documents. Consequently, there are also differences in how health is being framed. While the European Commission, Belgium, and Denmark clearly support a social justice frame, the global health strategies of the United Kingdom, Germany, and France put an additional focus on the security and investment frames.

There are different understandings of global/international health as well as different framings within relevant documents of the EU and its member states. Therefore, the existence of an ‘EU’ vision on global health is questionable. Further research is needed on how this impacts on policy implementation.
European Union (EU); Global Health; Framing; Development Cooperation; Foreign Policy
Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Pages (from-to)433-442
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Health Policy and Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


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