What are European reference networks?

This video explains to patients affected by rare, low prevalence and complex diseases what the European Reference Networks (ERN) are and how they might support them to identify diagnosis or treatment, in the case their health professional considers the support of the ERNs is necessary. It is available in all EU languages and Norwegian, with or without subtitles here: Watch the video on

European Reference Networks (ERNs) are virtual networks involving healthcare providers across Europe. They aim to tackle complex or rare diseases and conditions that require highly specialised treatment, knowledge and resources.

The objectives of the ERNs are to:

Improve clinical care by developing guidelines, training, and sharing knowledge.
Secure involvement of key stakeholders including patients and patient organisations.
Develop research activities as well as clinical trials to improve disease understanding.
Implement new IT systems to enable cross-border clinical collaboration.

European Reference Networks additional information can be found on the website of the European Commission .

Cross-border healthcare

ERNs were set up under the 2011 Directive on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare. This Directive also makes it easier for patients to access information on healthcare and thus increase their treatment options.

To find information points on cross-border healthcare in the country where you want to be treated, click here