European Reference Networks Expert Centres

European Reference Networks

Health systems in the European Union aim to provide high-quality, cost-effective care. This is particularly difficult however, in cases of rare or low-prevalence complex diseases, which affect the daily lives of around 30 million EU citizens.

European Reference Networks (ERNs) are virtual networks involving healthcare providers across Europe. They aim to facilitate discussion on complex and rare diseases that require highly specialised treatment and concentrated knowledge and resources. Further information on ERNs – including video clips, factsheets and information fliers for patients and clinicians – is available from the European Commission's ERN website. The website also hosts a searchable ERN page  which contains information on the various ERNs and expert centres. Searches can be restricted to one or more countries or clinical units and the results are displayed as pins on a map with the information listed beneath. More detailed information can be viewed by clicking on the individual items in the list of results.

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ERNs and Covid19  

In the context of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission launched the COVID-19 Clinical Management Support System (CMSS). The aim is to support doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in hospitals that are currently dealing with COVID-19 cases all over the EU, UK and the EEA countries. This system allows professionals to identify their peers in other countries and centres and help them communicate easily with colleagues

How are ERNs supporting their patients affected by rare diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The ERNs are facing unprecedented challenges in helping patients affected by rare diseases who are also infected with covid-19 to receive the care and treatment their specific situation requires. Several ERNs have set up targeted initiatives to help patients affected by rare diseases and COVID-19.

2019 call for new members

1. Full members

The 2019 call for membership to join the existing ERNs opened on 1st September 2019 and closed on 3rd December 2019. 

Evaluation of the applications 

The evaluation step of applications by the ERN Boards has been completed as of February 1st, 2021. Step 2 of the process, evaluation by the Independent Assessment Body will commence from February 2021

2. Associated National Centres

The launch of the call for new full members on 30th September 2019 marked close of the call for Associated National Centres

For further information about the ERN application and designation process in Ireland please feel free to contact the National Rare Diseases Office (NRDO) by email: