Increased wellbeing and economic growth through the economy of wellbeing

Finland wanted to launch an open debate on the economy of wellbeing. The goal is to enhance understanding of the fact that wellbeing is a prerequisite for economic growth and for social and economic stability.

In the economy of wellbeing, public resources are allocated for improving people’s wellbeing. Wellbeing means that people are healthier, more innovative and productive, they work and they pay taxes. The economy of wellbeing approach means that a virtuous circle of policies is created where wellbeing and economic growth reinforce each other and profit both people and society as a whole.

The population of the EU is ageing rapidly, but improving the wellbeing of the population can help contain the increasing costs of healthcare and social welfare. The goal of the economy of wellbeing concept is to ensure better wellbeing for EU citizens and more sustainable societies.

Council conclusions on the economy of wellbeing

The Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on the economy of wellbeing at the second Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) under Finland’s Presidency on 24 October 2019.

In its conclusions, the Council calls on the European Commission and the Member States to integrate a cross-sectoral economy of wellbeing perspective into all policy areas of the EU and the Member States. The Council conclusions will create a basis for further work on the concept in Europe.

People’s wellbeing a key EU objective

People’s wellbeing is one of the cornerstones of the EU. The EU should therefore do more to improve occupational health and safety and promote equality between women and men. In all other activities, too, the EU should ensure positive impacts on public health, social protection, employment, gender equality and education

Finland organised a high-level conference on the economy of wellbeing on 18–19 September 2019 in Helsinki. The main theme was the two-way relationship between wellbeing and the economy. The conference aimed to generate cross-sectoral dialogue on the theme for use in the forthcoming Council conclusions on the economy of wellbeing.

A working welfare policy creates the conditions for sustainable development. The economy of wellbeing means that economic growth is pursued in line with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sustainable growth can be achieved through measures that benefit people’s wellbeing and the environment, but never at their expense.

Finland’s objectives during the Presidency

Finland’s objectives were:

  • to stimulate an open European debate on the economy of wellbeing and improve policy-level understanding of the fact that wellbeing is a prerequisite for economic growth and for social and economic stability; on the other hand, economic growth also creates more opportunities to improve wellbeing in the population
  • to have the Council of the EU adopt conclusions on the economy of wellbeing in December; the conclusions include recommendations for measures to be taken by EU member states and the EU Commission.

Further information

Noora Saarinen, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Kansainvälisten asioiden yksikkö / KVR 0295163039