COLLEGE MEETING: Coronavirus: Commission strengthens preparedness for future outbreaks

Today, the Commission has presented immediate short-term measures to strengthen EU health preparedness for COVID-19 outbreaks. The Commission has from the outset coordinated the exchange of information and recommendations with regard to cross border health actions and measures. A continued vigilance and fast response from the Commission and the Member States is essential to ensure that the spread of the virus can be contained and new, generalised lockdowns can be avoided.  

The Communication focuses on all necessary actions needed to enhance preparedness, including testing and contact tracing, improved public health surveillance and widened access to medical countermeasures such as personal protective equipment, medicines and medical devices. Actions also include measures on healthcare surge capacity, non-pharmaceutical countermeasures, support to minorities and vulnerable persons, and activities to reduce the burden of seasonal influenza.

The communication lays out a number of priority actions for national authorities, the Commission and EU Agencies:

  • Increased testing coverage, contact tracing and surveillance by public health bodies to map clusters in order to contain the spread of outbreaks. In addition to the Communication, the Commission adopted today an Implementing Decision to support interoperability of mobile tracing and warning apps across national borders in the EU.
  • Ensuring the smooth supply of personal protective equipment, medicines and medical devices through mechanisms such as emergency joint procurements and strategic EU stockpiles.
  • Maintaining rapid access to public health surge capacities without neglecting other areas of healthcare, including through financial support for the transport of medical personnel and patients between Member States and the coordination of the deployment of emergency medical teams and equipment to requesting countries through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
  • Provision of targeted and localised non-pharmaceutical measures, informed by research and evidence as well as timely information exchange on the effectiveness of re-introduced measures.  
  • Supporting vulnerable groups such as the elderly, those with underlying medical conditions and those on the margins of society through sharing best practices of testing, care, and treatment, including in mental health and psychosocial support.
  • Reducing the burden of seasonal flu to avoid additional pressure on the already-stretched health care systems, through increased vaccination coverage and other means such as ensuring additional national procurements for influenza vaccines.

Members of the College said:

Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life, said: “We now know more about the virus but our duty is to remain vigilant and preventive. The set of measures presented today aim to counter further possible outbreaks of COVID-19. Drawing on the lessons of the past months we are planning ahead to avoid improvisation, reinforcing our preparedness on all fronts, preserving the single market and its main freedoms, and facilitating the path towards economic and social recovery across the EU.”

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “We have come a long way from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but the virus is still circulating. Vigilance, preparedness and coordination are indispensable to prevent generalised outbreaks. Today we call for strong and joint action to protect our citizens and will support Member States in doing so. It is our responsibility to ensure that we are fully prepared. Now is not the time to let our guard down.”


The COVID-19 pandemic has put unparalleled pressure across the EU and indeed around the world. Many countries had to face widespread transmission of the virus in the community. The EU and its Member States have introduced measures to mitigate social and economic impacts, such as maintaining the functioning of the internal market, supporting the transport and tourism sectors, protecting employment and supporting medical care services for vulnerable groups. The Commission has also issued recommendations on travel and border measures necessary to protect the health of our citizens while also preserving the internal market. 

Member States are increasingly coordinating their response, which is absolutely vital in ensuring that the epidemiological situation remains low across the EU. The public health measures taken by the countries helped to decrease the numbers of new infections to a level that was manageable by health systems. This in turn allowed the progressive lifting of the various restrictions imposed and the reopening of most activities, guided by the European roadmap to lifting of coronavirus measures.

The virus does not stop at EU borders. The Commission will continue to coordinate with other global actors, including the UN and WHO, to ensure the required international response to this global health threat, including equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine.

For More Information

Communication on short-term EU health preparedness for future COVID-19 outbreaks

Factsheet: Preparing the EU for future COVID-19 outbreaks

Coronavirus: new steps towards setting-up of an interoperability solution for mobile tracing and warning apps 

Coronavirus website