European Reference Networks

European Reference Networks


European Reference Networks (ERNs) are virtual networks involving Reference Centres across the EU and Norway. The aim of the ERNs is to tackle complex or rare diseases and conditions that require highly specialised treatment and concentrated knowledge and resources. Rare patient cases can be discussed by a ‘virtual’ advisory board of medical specialists from across different countries and disciplines in a dedicated and secure IT platform, developed by the EU Commission specifically for ERNs. This approach allows the medical knowledge and expertise that travel, rather than the patients, who have the comfort of staying in their supportive home environments.

ERNs are based on Directive 2011/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2011 on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare, which provides rules to facilitate access to safe and high-quality cross-border healthcare and promotes cooperation on healthcare between Member States.

Health systems in the European Union aim to provide high-quality, cost-effective care, but this is particularly difficult with rare or low-prevalence complex diseases or conditions. Between 5,000 and 8,000 rare diseases affect the daily lives of around 30 million people in the EU.

Overview of all Networks

The first ERNs were launched in March 2017, involving more than 900 highly-specialised healthcare units from over 300 hospitals in 26 Member States. 24 ERNs are working on a range of thematic issues including bone disorders, childhood cancer and immunodeficiency.

Network Name Description
ERN BOND ERN on bone disorders
ERN CRANIO ERN on craniofacial anomalies and ear, nose and throat (ENT) disorders
Endo-ERN ERN on endocrine conditions
ERN EpiCARE ERN on epilepsies
ERKNet ERN on kidney diseases
ERN-RND ERN on neurological diseases
ERNICA ERN on inherited and congenital anomalies
ERN LUNG ERN on respiratory diseases
ERN Skin ERN on skin disorders
ERN EURACAN ERN on adult cancers (solid tumours)
ERN EuroBloodNet ERN on haematological diseases
ERN eUROGEN ERN on urogenital diseases and conditions
ERN EURO-NMD ERN on neuromuscular diseases
ERN EYE ERN on eye diseases
ERN GUARD-HEART ERN on diseases of the heart
ERN-ITHACA ERN on congenital malformations and rare intellectual disability
MetabERN ERN on hereditary metabolic disorders
ERN PaedCan ERN on paediatric cancer (haemato-oncology)
ERN RARE-LIVER ERN on hepatological diseases
ERN ReCONNET ERN on connective tissue and musculoskeletal diseases
ERN RITA ERN on immunodeficiency, autoinflammatory and autoimmune diseases
ERN TRANSPLANT-CHILD ERN on Transplantation in Children
VASCERN ERN on Rare Multisystemic Vascular Diseases