From the Charter of Fundamental Rights to the Crisis, the State of the Art
As Europe struggles with the most profound economic and social crises in recent history, what happens to the promises of freedom, democracy, equality and respect for the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person proclaimed in the Preamble of the Treaty on European Union? How does the European Union intend to demonstrate its commitment to fundamental social rights at a time of widespread deregulation and an increasingly precarious labour market? How can we further enhance the democratic and efficient functioning of European institutions when there is a growing distance between citizens and political elites?
This publication is based on papers given at the international conference «Citizenship and Solidarity in the European Union – from the Charter of Fundamental Rights to the Crisis: The State of the Art», which took place in the School of Law at the University of Minho, Portugal, in May 2012. The line-up of contributors includes scholars from southern and northern Europe and Brazil, and together the papers constitute a lively and productive debate about the future of Europe.
Health Equality, Solidarity and Human Rights in European Union Law (Tamara Hervey)
University of Sheffield
The World Bank has estimated that the region of Europe1 (particularly East Europe) and central Asia has been hit harder than anywhere else in the world by the global financial crisis and economic downturn, and that this region will also be the slowest to recover.2 The effects of the crisis on households are significant: through credit market contractions, food and fuel price increases and rising unemployment, poverty and social exclusion are increasing.3 As the World Health Organisation points out, poverty and social exclusion threaten the health of millions of people in its European region.4
The correlation between poverty and health is not a perfect or direct one, but many studies show that poverty is a key indicator for poor health. Poverty both causes and is a result of poor health.5 Within the EU, the ← 341 | 342 → Commission has estimated that the differences in life expectancy at birth between the lowest and highest socio-economic groups in the EU reach 10 years for men and 6 years for women.6 In the global North,7 some pertinent issues with respect to the link between poverty and health include obesity, tobacco and alcohol misuse, poor housing and education, as well as access to health care systems.
Statistics on healthcare spending show very wide disparities between EU Member States.8
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