EUCAP Sahel Mali

70th WHO Regional Committee for Europe - EU Statement: Response to Director General and Regional Director Address

Geneva, 14/09/2020 - 15:17, UNIQUE ID: 200914_23
Statements on behalf of the EU

[Executive] President, Regional Director, colleagues

I am pleased to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States at this 70th Regional Committee, a special one in many respects.

The Candidate Countries, the Republic of North Macedonia[1], Montenegro* and Albania*, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia align themselves with this statement.

The COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing. At the same time, we have entered the phase of evaluation and lessons learned, both at national and international levels.

We welcome the start of the process of independent evaluation of the COVID-19 response, as requested by resolution WHA73.1, and would like to thank the DG, as well as the IPPR Co-Chairs, for their efforts.

We are looking forward to meeting the Co-Chairs at the Special Session of the Executive Board, and to learning how they plan to engage with Member States in a transparent way.

A global, collaborative, inclusive and coordinated response is imperative, now as well as in the future, to prevent, prepare and respond to and defeat pandemics and their impact. This was the purpose and tenor of the COVID-19 response resolution, adopted by the WHA in May.

A global response will not be possible without solidarity – we recall in particular the recognition of vaccinations against COVID-19 as a global public good and confirm our commitment to ACT-A including the COVAX Facility.

Member States’ expectations vis-à-vis WHO by far outweigh WHO’s financial, structural and legal capacities overall, but in particular in pandemic preparedness and response.

Without prejudice to ongoing evaluations, we take the view that an inclusive discussion about the strengthening of WHO and potential steps of reform should start as of now as an input to these processes. Regarding WHO's funding, we should both consider the size of the overall Programme Budget and strive towards more predictable and flexible funding. WHO’s work in emergency response is especially underfunded and should be further strengthened.

We consider it crucial to have strong monitoring and oversight systems in place and ensure full transparency and pro-active communication with donors.

A review of the IHRs is equally needed with a view to strengthening its implementation and reviewing e.g. the PHEIC alarm level system. WHO’s normative role and capacities should also be strengthened.

The EU is committed to playing an active role in strengthening WHO, and more generally, global health as such. We have worked very closely with the WHO in the EU’s neighbourhood countries, and mobilized very substantial support to address the COVID-19 outbreak.


Cross border disease outbreaks like Ebola and COVID-19 cannot be seen in isolation: health system strengthening, climate change issues, animal and human health, anti-microbial resistance and non-communicable diseases are all interlinked and interacting. WHO with its broad mandate is well positioned to play a key role. The current focus on COVID-19 should not divert attention from WHO’s work in these and other essential areas.

We appreciate your and your team’s dedication and efforts in often very difficult circumstances. Thank you for your leadership in fighting this pandemic.

Regional Director Kluge,

You started your tenure under difficult circumstances.

Under your leadership, the Regional Office has actively played its part in addressing the ongoing pandemic in the European Region through virtual meetings, including one on schools, but also through working together on the ground in our partner countries in the region.

We thank you and all your colleagues at the Regional Office for your dedication and efforts in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

We appreciate your decision to initiate a process on tracking the response by the Regional Office, promising full transparency, in the early days of the pandemic.

We acknowledge the establishment of the Monti-Commission, and will remain attentive to its recommendations.

The pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the health and well-being of our people, economies and societies. We need to work together to make sure no one is left behind. Ensuring health security in the face of emergencies and other threats to health was one of the key elements of your vision for the WHO European Region.

The European Programme of Work for 2020-2025 - which we will discuss later today - will define the framework for our collaboration in the challenging times ahead.

Thank you.

[1]The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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