The European Union and Health and Human Rights

Brigit Toebes, Janne Rothmar Herrmann

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This paper addresses the interfaces between European union law and ‘health and human rights’. First, a short introduction is given to the scope of ‘health and human rights’ as a new area of human rights law. Subsequently the paper gives an overview of how and to what extent the EU engages with ‘health and human rights’. In this regard, attention is paid to three questions: 1) how does the EU engage directly with health and human rights through its adoption of human rights, 2) how does it engage with health and human rights through its specific responsibilities in the area of health; and 3) how does it engage with health and human rights on the basis of its free movement legislation. Given that the EU is primarily an economic organisation its activities in the area of ‘health and human rights’ are somewhat haphazard. Yet the overall conclusion is that the EU increasingly engages with this new area of the law, while there can also be a tension between EU law and health and human rights law, in particular where it concerns EU legislation in the area of freedom of movement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-436
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Human Rights Law Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Health law, European Union law, European Charter of Fundamental Rights

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