Public finances must be secure and sustainable despite the economic crisis, EU finance ministers have said.
They stressed that the necessary structural reforms should be carried out as soon as possible, especially in light of Europe’s changing demographic nature.
“The improvement of the long-term sustainability and quality of public finances together with a strong governance framework is a crucial part of responding to the recession,” the ministers said in a statement.
The call for prioritising public spending in areas such as healthcare and other essential services formed part of the conclusions from an economic and financial affairs meeting of in Brussels.
“The fiscal impact of ageing will be substantial in almost all Member States, with effects becoming apparent already during the next decade,” they added.
Meeting as the Council of the EU, the ministers reaffirmed a commitment to a strategy for addressing the economic impacts of ageing, including reducing debt at a faster pace, raising employment rates and productivity and reforming pension, health care and long-term care systems.
Support for public spending should, however, be accompanied by serious consideration for health equity, according to a WHO report on the social determinants of health.
The report stresses that any structural reform of public financing should focus on “protecting equitable access to goods and services critical to well-being and health.”
In addition to securing public financing, the report stresses the importance of regulating private initiatives to ensure fair access to health-related goods and services for all.
“A key issue is, therefore, how much and how well government is able to oversee the function of its mixed system, plan fair provision, and regulate private sector input,” the report says.
The conclusions of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council can be found at this link.
The WHO report on the social determinants of health can be found here.