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Main findings

The EUREGIO III project (2009-2011) explored and assessed the use of SF for direct health investment in the 2000-2006 and 2007-2013 SF periods. During this time the predominant SF investments focused mainly on capital expenditure for hospital and health facility renewal and eHealth projects. The project therefore aimed to anticipate the mood of change in healthcare as it addresses future flashpoints, demography, chronic disease and an uncertain economic outlook, by concentrating on those areas of spending likely to prove critical to ‘improving future healthcare’.

It found that the current SF process tends to favour single (monofocus) projects. This is a paradox. The EU Council Conclusions Towards modern, responsive and sustainable health systems (6 June 2011) advocates strongly the need to develop a more integrated and pluralistic model of healthcare in place of the hospitalcentred default model common across all MS. SF will have a major role to play in supporting this shift. However just as the accent is moving towards integration as a characteristic of structural change, SF projects and spending focus must be similarly integrated, including between ERDF and ESF and Infrastructure and eHealth. This will be a major challenge. In this context, EUREGIO III provided good evidence to inform the Hungarian EU Presidency Programme, which in turn generated comment in the ‘Conclusions’ about the future ‘investment’ importance of SF.

A further complex issue is the nature of innovation and impact of SF projects. Innovation tends towards the technical element of projects, in particular eHealth, as opposed to achieving innovative and sustainable outcomes. This can be observed in the general weakness in applying lifecycle operational and economic principles to project proposals. Concept planning and decision criteria need particular attention in this respect. However it also important to note a nucleus of innovative projects emerging within the past year or so that capture both the spirit and letter of Europe 2020, for example active and healthy ageing, and which will provide exemplars of good practice on which to build for the future.

There is one further important finding, in particular emerging from masterclasses and workshops, if SF investment is to become more effective there will be a need for new concepts to be accompanied by investment in new knowledge, competencies and tool kits to manage the more complex changes ahead.


Professor Jonathan Watson, Executive Director Health ClusterNET; Project Leader for EUREGIO III

Barrie Dowdeswell. Research Director ECHAA

21 March 2012


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Icon EUREGIO III Final Report - Executive summary 678.9 KB

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