MEPS on Wednesday (26 February) voted in favour of the EU's long-term health programme for 2014-2020, which aims to reduce health inequalities and foster innovation.

Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg said in a statement that he believes the programme will advance the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy by fostering health as an indispensable condition for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

French MEP Françoise Grossetête from the European People's Party (EPP), who has been the Parliament's rapporteur said that the four priorities under the new programme are prevention, protection of citizens from cross-border health threats, innovation for healthcare systems and improved access to better and safer healthcare for all EU citizens.

"Two years of negotiations were necessary to set up this new health programme. We have learned from previous programmes and have decided to focus on priorities in which the European Union can bring real added-value in the field of health,” Grossetête said.

The budget for health 2014-2020 would be €449.4 million in the multi-annual financial framework (MFF). However, grants may be awarded to fund actions which have a clear EU added value, co-financed by the EU member state authorities responsible for health.

Grants can also be given to participating third countries or by public sector bodies and non-governmental bodies, acting individually or as a network, when mandated by those competent authorities.