EPF Calls For The Recognition Of The Added-Value Of Patient And Public Health Organisations


The launch of an own-initiative report entitled “Budgetary Control of Financing NGOs from the EU Budget” by MEP Markus Pieper (EPP, Germany) at the end of 2015 prompted the re-opening of discussions on the appropriateness and legitimacy of EU funding for NGOs.

While last years’ debates on the Pieper report saw a large share of MEPs expressing their support towards Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), others questioned the current system and raised concerns about the independence of some NGOS receiving funding from the EU budget, and the lack of transparency of this process.

These comments demonstrate the climate of suspicion that currently exists around the way financial support is allocated to NGOs and that their role and added-value is too often misunderstood or not recognised. In that sense, this own-initiative report provides an opportunity for EPF to highlight the role and added value of patient organisations.

The European Patients’ Forum believes that NGOs, including patient organisations, make a unique contribution to the public health debate, bringing their insights and evidence-based knowledge to European decision-making. Together with our members, the European Patients’ Forum voice the experience and expertise of patients from across Europe, which they have acquired through being diagnosed and living with a long-term disease or condition and interacting with health and social systems on a regular basis.

Without patient organisations, the interests of patient communities, representing people who are in an especially vulnerable position in society, would remain unheard: patient organisations play a role in promoting higher standards of care, better/more equitable access to care, patients’ rights, the sustainability of health systems and better coordination of health and social policies across the European Union.

This contribution should be recognised and resourced appropriately.

Many NGOs, including patient groups, working on European issues are confronting with serious challenges in resourcing their organisations to be able to harness the experience of their members and contribute effectively to EU activities in the health and social sphere.

Moreover, it should be noted that the amount of funding sought for NGOs’ operational activities is relatively small when weighed against the significant economic “return” and societal impact properly resourced patient organisations can have. It is also quite insignificant when compared to the resources allocated to other beneficiaries from the EU budget, including Member states, academia and commercial actors such as SMEs and industry bodies.

At this point we would also like to reiterate our commitment to independence: our track-record over the 14 years of our existence demonstrates our willingness to act as credible partners and our ability to express constructive criticisms, whenever necessary, towards any health stakeholder.

There is a broad commitment from patient organisations to transparency, one of EPF’s core values. We would like to recall that NGOs benefiting from EU grants already need to state their sources of funding and financial statements.

We do agree that the current system could be improved, through simplification of the application and reporting system for example.

Making application and reporting requirements proportionate to the size of grants could ease the burden on smaller NGOs.

We believe that the Financial Transparency System, the tool used currently by the European Commission to display the recipients of EU funding, could be improved. We are happy to contribute with ideas on how this would be done.  

Contact person: Camille Bullot, Membership and Stakeholder Relations Manager, Camille.bullot@eu-patient.eu