European countries have achieved major gains in population health over recent decades. Life expectancy at birth in European Union (EU) countries has increased by six years since 1980, while premature mortality has reduced dramatically. Improvements in living
and working conditions and in some health‐related behaviours have contributed greatly to these longevity gains, but progress in medical care also deserves much credit. Health systems are of growing size and complexity in European countries, and spending on health
care has never been higher, consuming an ever‐increasing share of national income.