The Europe 2020 Strategy has three interlinked priorities for growth, each of which is important for health:

  • Smart: an economy based on knowledge and innovation;
  • Sustainable: more resource efficient, a greener and a more competitive economy;
  • Inclusive: high-employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion.

The Strategy will be implemented through a series of Flagship Initiatives with quantitative targets set at broad goals (see the table below).

Under Smart Growth, one of the three Flagship Initiatives is the Innovation Union which seeks to translate European research into new services and products. Its first pilot is European Innovation Partnership on Active and Health Ageing (EIP) which aims at extending average healthy life years in Europe by two years by 2020. The EIP covers health prevention, promotion, care and cure for older people as well as active and independent living.

For Sustainable Growth, Resource-Efficient Europe is one of the two Flagship Initiatives. Its goal is improved efficiency in use of natural resources consumption, including raw materials such as fuels and minerals as well as water, air, soil and ecosystems. The focus is on transitioning to a low-carbon economy in Europe that would cut polluting emissions and contribute to better air quality, less noise and improved public health.

One of Inclusive Growth's two Flagship Initiatives is the European platform against poverty and social exclusion. Its overall goal is to lift 20 million Europeans out of poverty or risk of poverty by 2020. Improving health is critical to meeting this goal: this Flagship Initiative identifies health inequalities as a key challenge. Poor health can be the result of poor living conditions, limiting the ability to work and thus further increasing the risk of poverty. 


Flagship Initiatives


Smart growth

Digital agenda for Europe

Innovation Union

Youth on the move

Investment levels to reach 3% of EU's GDP as well as better conditions for R&D and Innovation

Reaching a 75% employment rate for women and men aged 20-64 by 2020 - Also a target for inclusive growth

Better educational attainment – in particular:
– reducing school drop-out rates below 10%
– at least 40% of 30-34-year-olds with third level education (or equivalent) - Also a target for inclusive growth

Sustainable growth

Resource efficient Europe

An industrial policy for the globalisation era

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels by 2020

Increasing the share of renewables in final energy consumption to 20%

Moving towards a 20% increase in energy efficiency

Inclusive Growth

Agenda for new skills and jobs

European platform against poverty

At least 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion

Also, targets on employment rates and educational attainment listed under Smart growth