The European Commission took the first steps towards building the European Health Union by putting forward on 11 November a set of proposals to strengthen the EU's health security framework, and to reinforce the crisis preparedness and response role of key EU agencies. In order to step up the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and future health emergencies, more coordination at EU level is needed. Drawing lessons from the current crisis, the proposed actions will ensure stronger preparedness and response during the current and future health crises.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen stated: “We are changing the way we address cross-border health threats. We start building a European Health Union, to protect citizens with high quality care in a crisis, and equip the Union and its Member States to prevent and manage health emergencies that affect the whole of Europe.”
The proposals focus on revamping the existing legal framework for serious cross border threats to health, as well as reinforcing the crisis preparedness and response role of key EU agencies, namely the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
A stronger EU health security framework
The coronavirus pandemic shows the importance of coordination among European countries. To strengthen the EU’s crisis preparedness and management of cross-border health threats, the Commission is proposing to:
Stronger and more operational EU Agencies
The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the European Medicines Agency have been at the forefront of the EU's work to address COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic. However, COVID-19 has shown that both agencies need to be reinforced and equipped with stronger mandates to better protect EU citizens and address cross border health threats.
The Commission also launched a debate on a new authority that will work on EU health emergency preparedness and response. Such a new authority would support the Union’s capacity to respond to cross-border chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats; epidemics; emerging diseases and pandemic influenza.