Brussels Conference 2019

Conference 'A sustainable and effective EU health policy for citizens: Focusing on chronic diseases and inclusion in social and economic life'

Brussels, 16 October 2019

The EULAR Brussels conference in 2019 hosted a livestream of the event, which formed part of the EULAR TV programme on the day of the conference itself. Social media coverage took place on Twitter. The conference was also covered by EURACTIV, a leading Brussels-based media outlet.

Conference programme

Download the conference programme here

EULAR Brussels Conference Playlist: 


Watch the conference trailer on YouTube by clicking here

Watch the conference day on EULAR TV (includes the conference livestream) here

Conference coverage in Brussels-based EURACTIV

An EU health policy for rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases
Read the overview here

Opportunity in a crisis: European Union must enable people with chronic conditions to remain active in social and economic life. 
Read the article here

Health research is where  theEU can make a mark, lawmakers agree
Read the article here

New EU Commission should take on rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases
Read the article here


EULAR Develops Comprehensive New Recommendations for European Union Health Policies Affecting People with Chronic Disease 

The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) has completed a new report outlining its vision for how an integrated system of updated European health and social policies can support not just the health of people with chronic diseases, but also their lifelong participation in work and the social fabric of their countries.

"Health is a top priority for European citizens, and European health policy needs a fresh start," wrote EULAR leaders in its newly released vision paper, The Future of European Health Policies. "Citizens’ expectations are high, whereas EU initiatives have been extremely weak on ambition over recent years. Health policy must be brought out of the niche and into the core of the political agenda by the new European Commission."

EULAR is the umbrella organisation for people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs), a category of health conditions that represent Europe's greatest cause of chronic physical disability. RMDs affect approximately 25 percent of Europeans of all ages—more than 120 million people—and place an enormous burden on European societies in terms of health and social security costs. Millions more are disabled by other serious health conditions, including diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

To receive a copy of EULAR's new vision paper contact the EULAR Brussels Office at

Policy recommendations were a key component of discussions at EULAR's World Arthritis Day Conference 2019, held in October in Brussels, Belgium. The gathering brought together health professionals, EU decision-makers and policy experts, people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs), and patient representative organisations to share information and discuss solutions.

"The annual conference showed once again that we are fortunate to have so many talented and creative minds in the EULAR community and throughout Europe who are committed to improving the lives of people with chronic disease," said EULAR President Iain McInnes, PhD, M.B.Ch.B. "Many governments in Europe have struggled to bridge the gap between broad, high-level recommendations and actionable, sustainable strategies to help the tens of millions of our citizens who live with chronic health conditions and disabilities, but we are confident that we can now make progress towards effective strategies."

RMDs alone are also responsible for an estimated burden of EUR240 billion to European countries every year. Across the EU, RMDs are the main cause of work loss, presenteeism (lost productivity at work due to diminished capacity), absenteeism, work disability, early retirement, premature death, as well as compensation for household work performed by others. And with an ageing population, the burden on individuals with RMDs—and on national economies—is set to increase dramatically.

In its vision paper, EULAR stressed in particular the need for EU policies that will help maintain economic participation. "A particular focus should be put on making sure European citizens can stay in work and return to work when they are affected by a chronic condition," wrote EULAR. "Work is not only an essential element of citizens’ lives and well-being; a healthy workforce is also fundamental for Europe’s economic success and Europeans’ standard of life."

"EU policymakers must act now to address these already-occurring dramatic demographic shifts and other changes in our societies, including aging populations and economic stresses," said McInnes. "We are excited to work together with policymakers throughout Europe to develop policy solutions that will enable the best possible lives for all our citizens. With this year's European Parliament elections and the new Commission taking office, we have an ideal opportunity to improve and harmonise our health and social care systems at the European level."

EULAR's new recommendations address policy needs in three general areas: access to health care for people with RMDs; management of chronic diseases throughout life; and coordination of policies, budgets and information between the various government health and social services agencies.

Specific policy recommendations covered such as education about RMDs for patients and health professionals, integrated patient-centred care, and the use of digital technologies to share knowledge throughout Europe about best practices in healthcare. Other key proposals focused on the importance of eliminating policy inconsistencies across the EU. Among the most important goals is the assurance of equal rights for citizens in all regions and all parts of society with respect to care and access to health and social services.


About Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases

Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) are a diverse group of diseases that commonly affect the joints, but can also affect the muscles, other tissues and internal organs. There are more than 200 different RMDs, affecting both children and adults. They are usually caused by problems of the immune system, inflammation, infections or gradual deterioration of joints, muscle and bones. Many of these diseases are long term and worsen over time. They are typically painful and Iimit function. In severe cases, RMDs can result in significant disability, having a major impact on both quality of life and life expectancy.



The European League against Rheumatism (EULAR) is the European umbrella organisation representing scientific societies, health professional associations and organisations for people with RMDs. EULAR aims to reduce the burden of RMDs on individuals and society and to improve the treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of RMDs. To this end, EULAR fosters excellence in education and research in the field of rheumatology. It promotes the translation of research advances into daily care and fights for the recognition of the needs of people with RMDs by the EU institutions through advocacy action.


Press contact

Ursula Aring, EULAR Communications Manager, Tel. +41 44 716 30 38 / M. +41 79 7 880 629.


EULAR Vision paper

A copy of the EULAR vision paper is available from the EULAR Brussels Office,


Video address: Watch the conference teaser

Get ready for the EULAR Brussels conference with Professor Iain McInnes here:


EULAR TV: Watch video of the conference.

(Link to be added).


Social media: #EULARBrussels2019

Follow the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #EULARBrussels2019 @eular_org


Notes to Editors

EULAR Strategy:
EULAR School:
EULAR Campaign:
EULAR Recommendations:

EULAR press releases: 


About the EULAR Brussels conference

EULAR President Iain McInnes will today host the debate, ‘A sustainable and effective EU health policy for citizens: Focusing on chronic diseases and inclusion in social and economic life’ in Brussels. The conference brings together EU and national policy makers, patient organisations, health professional associations, scientific societies and health and social organisations from across Europe. Workshops will include access to healthcare, managing chronic diseases in the life course, coordination between health and social affairs policies. Launched in 2010, the EULAR Conference in Brussels is held every October and coincides each year with the globally celebrated awareness day, World Arthritis Day.  

Related Information

EULAR Vision Paper 2019


Follow EULAR on Twitter @eular_org and EULAR President Professor Iain Blair McInnes @IainBMcInnes1

Conference hashtag


EULAR Campaign

Find out about the EULAR Campaign, Don't Delay, Connect Today and the theme in 2019 and 2020 'Time2Work' here

World Arthritis Day

Find out about how EULAR marked World Arthritis Day (WAD) together with other international leagues in 2019 here