A new MoU between Health Europa and Active Citizenship Network

A new MoU between Health Europa and Active Citizenship Network
© iStock/g-stockstudio

Health Europa is proud to announce that we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Active Citizenship Network.

Established in 2001, Active Citizenship Network (ACN) is the EU branch of the Italian NGO Cittadinanzattiva APS, a non-profit organisation founded in 1978, independent from any political affiliation, trade unions, private companies and public institutions.

It is one of the most widespread and flexible European networks, with 206 associations from 32 countries from around the world coming together to take part in its initiatives in recent years.

Active Citizen Network objectives

As the international branch of Cittadinanzattiva, ACN has two main objectives:

  • To encourage the active participation of citizens in European policy making in order to promote the construction of a ‘European active citizenship’, through citizens’ powers and responsibilities in public policies. This includes:

– Recognising the primary role of citizens and civic organisations in the care of the common good;

– Supporting citizen’s participation in policy making at the local, national, and EU levels; and

– Involving them in the defence of their fundamental rights as citizens, patients, consumers, users, etc.

  • To promote the successful experiences achieved by Cittadinanzattiva in Italy at the international level.


Cittadinanzattiva/Active Citizenship Network is officially recognised by the European institutions as:

  • A member of the ‘Health Policy Forum’ and then of the ‘Health Policy Platform’, the EU platform dealing with health and patient’s rights led by the European Commission’s DG for Health and Food Safety;
  • A member of the ‘Active Citizenship Structured Dialogue Group’, led by the European Commission’s DG for Migration and Home Affairs, the EU platform dealing with civic participation;
  • A member of the European Consumer Consultative Group, a consultative group set up by the European Commission’s DG Justice and Consumers, entrusted to represent the interests of consumers at the Commission and give opinions on issues relating to the conception and implementation of policy and action on the subjects of protecting and informing consumers; and
  • A member of the ECDC Technical Advisory Group, led by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Active Citizenship Network is also on the Board/Executive Committee of Pain Alliance Europe (since 2014), Societal Impact of Pain (since 2016), Health First Europe (since 2017), and Movimento Europeo (since 2018).

Field of actions

Since its inception, ACN has promoted several political activities and carried out more than 30 EU projects together with partners from EU and extra EU countries, working as a leader or partner in a consortium or consultant as an advisor in the following areas, assessing, monitoring and promoting the respect of patients’ rights, with a specific focus on:

  • Prevention (screening and vaccination);
  • The fight against unnecessary suffering and chronic pain;
  • Access to care and to innovation;
  • Patients’ empowerment and involvement;
  • Cross-border healthcare;
  • Collecting best practices;
  • Wellness, healthy ageing and elderly care;
  • Sustainability issues in areas such as the healthcare system, mobility, energy, etc.;
  • Corporate social responsibility and volunteering; and
  • Civic evaluation of the healthcare providers and other public services.

Health Europa has either covered or carried expert comment on many of these areas in the past, and therefore welcomes the opportunity to continue to do so along with ACN via our new partnership.


Over the last 18 years, ACN has been promoting policies and activities concerning the protection of patients’ rights at the European level and has made numerous achievements which have been recognised as an important milestone for the wider community engaged in healthcare issues. These include:

  • The European Charter of Patients’ Rights (2002), which has become a reference point for EU citizens’ healthcare rights, representing the starting point for all the other charters focused on patients’ conditions;
  • Drafting the European Charter of Active Citizenship (2005-2006), in collaboration with FONDACA, to bridge the gap in the EU between the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities of civic organisations acting in public policies; launching of the European Patients’ Rights Day, celebrated every year on the 18 April with local, national and EU events (2007)
  • Being awarded the Civil Society Prize by the European Economic and Social Committee for its work on citizens’ rights (2007);
  • Acting as technical advisor to the United Nation Development Programme for the development of activities in the field of civic participation and access to public services and health in Colombia (2009-2012);
  • Drafting the First Charter of Patients’ Rights in Colombia (2011);
  • The promotion of the Member of the European Parliament Interest Group ‘European Patients’ Rights & Cross-Border Healthcare’ with the support of almost 100 associations from all over Europe (2015);
  • Being awarded the Efhre International University Excellence Awards for its work on patients’ rights, focused on chronic pain (2016);
  • Contributing significantly to the obtainment of an increase in the commitment of European Institutions on the issue of chronic pain – which led to more funds being allocated to research, the opening of an expert group by the EU Commission, and a mention in the 2017 Conclusions of the Council of the European Union (2017); and
  • The launch of the second term (2019-2024) of the Member of the European Parliament Interest Group ‘European Patients’ Rights & Cross-Border Healthcare (2020).

The MoU

The signing of the MoU will see our two organisations work closely together in several key ways. These include:

  • Health Europa will act as the media partner for several ACN activities of common interest, with Health Europa utilising its suite of communication tools to help disseminate the important information emerging from these initiatives and also the successes they generate;
  • Health Europa will carry news and content on wider ACN activities, helping to keep Europe’s citizens informed;
  • Our two organisations will facilitate the exchange of good practices on the issues that are pertinent to them; and
  • Health Europa will participate in ACN activities such as the European Patients’ Rights Day event as invited.

Health Europa and ACN have agreed to meet at least once annually in order to better evaluate the implementation of this MoU, with the opportunity then for it to be revised/updated.

We are delighted that this memorandum has now been made official, and we are looking forward to working with the Active Citizenship Network, and indeed their other partner organisations, on many of the important areas in which they are active.

You can find more information on the ACN here; and we invite you to follow them on Twitter and Facebook and to sign up for their Active Citizenship Network Newsletter, where you can learn more about what they do and how we are working together to better empower the citizens of Europe.

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