EU Health Governance Research

The EU is a significant, if ambiguous, health actor. GHPU research looks at its governance structures and relevance to global, regional and national health policy.

The EU Health Law and Policy Project: Shaping a future research agenda

The EU Health Law and Policy (EUHLP) Project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between legal and political science academics, as well as practitioners and the policy community, to explore the future of the EU’s role in health. Co-investigators Dr Eleanor Brooks (Edinburgh) and Dr Mary Guy (Lancaster), with funding from the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust, ran two workshops to explore the status of EU health policy in the post-crisis period its potential trajectory in the future.

An Outcomes Document, which summarises the discussions and findings of the first workshop, can be accessed here.

A special issue of Health Economics, Policy and Law brings the project together. The articles included are available on First View (paywall) here:

For updates, including follow-on workshops and events, join the network by following @EUHLP and #EUHLP.

Contact: Dr Eleanor Brooks

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Better Regulation for Better Health

This project is funded by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, commencing in November 2020, for 4 years.

Better Regulation (BR) is the label used to describe initiatives that aim to reduce the burden of laws and policies on business, simplify legislation and make policy-making more transparent and participatory. In practice, these initiatives are often made up of tools such as impact assessments, public consultations and scrutiny boards, and attract criticism from civil society organisations (CSOs) concerned about their potential to undermine public health protections.

The impact of the EU’s Better Regulation Agenda (BRA) upon health is strongly contested. The European Commission, which implements it, maintains that the BRA is ‘not…about deregulating or deprioritising’ and, in comparison to some national programmes, the BRA appears relatively balanced. Yet, research has exposed the role of British American Tobacco, among other industry actors, in its design, and CSOs persistently campaign against it. At the root of these contradictory positions is an absence of unambiguous evidence, compounded by a lack of capacity among CSOs to engage with BRA processes.

A similarly unclear situation arises in the UK, exacerbated by its changing relationship with the EU. Under pressure to attract investment in coming years the UK BR programme, which is already among the most business-friendly in Europe, is likely to undergo further reform. This project emerges from discussions with civil society actors concerned about the potential of BR to undermine public health standards, both in the EU and the UK. In co-production with key research users, it conducts the first comprehensive assessment of how the BRA is affecting health at the European level and develops the tools needed to ensure that it serves to strengthen regulation, and not weaken it. A second phase replicates the analytical framework created in the first and engages with UK regulatory reform processes at a critical point for public health protection.

Contact: Dr Eleanor Brooks

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Other ongoing projects:

  • Health in Europe

An off-shoot of the EUHLP project (above), this project brings together academics from all disciplines working on health and health governance in Europe. For further details, visit the website: