This review presents seven national asthma programmes to support the European Asthma Research and Innovation Partnership in developing strategies to reduce asthma mortality and morbidity across Europe. From published data it appears that in order to influence asthma care, national/regional asthma programmes are more effective than conventional treatment guidelines. An asthma programme should start with the universal commitments of stakeholders at all levels and the programme has to be endorsed by political and governmental bodies. When the national problems have been identified, the goals of the programme have to be clearly defined with measures to evaluate progress. An action plan has to be developed, including defined re-allocation of patients and existing resources, if necessary, between primary care and specialised healthcare units or hospital centres. Patients should be involved in guided self-management education and structured follow-up in relation to disease severity. The three evaluated programmes show that, thanks to rigorous efforts, it is possible to improve patients’ quality of life and reduce hospitalisation, asthma mortality, sick leave and disability pensions. The direct and indirect costs, both for the individual patient and for society, can be significantly reduced. The results can form the basis for development of further programme activities in Europe.