Last night, the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on a reinforced role for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The revised ECDC mandate will allow the agency to take a stronger role in supporting the EU and its Member States in the prevention and control of communicable disease threats and improve European preparedness for future health challenges.
Welcoming the agreement, Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, and Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, made the following statement:
“Today we take one step closer to a stronger European Health Union. A Union that has all the necessary tools at its disposal to continue decisively addressing COVID-19 and that is ready for future health crises. Since the start of the pandemic, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has been at the forefront of our common efforts to face this unprecedented situation, providing timely and clear risk assessments and maps to facilitate safe free movement, tracking the virus outbreak in the EU and recommending measures to control it. Without this work, coordination at EU level would not have been as strong as it is today.
Today’s agreement means state-of-the-art surveillance of future outbreaks, more joint preparedness and response planning with Member States, stronger guidance during emergencies and more support to Member States at all stages of health crisis management, including through the assistance of a standing, ready-to-be-deployed EU Health Task Force.
However, we cannot have a strong European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control without strong EU rules for cross-border health threats and an empowered European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA). We need all pieces to finalise the puzzle.
We need to reach political agreement on all the European Health Union proposals as soon as possible. The Commission initiatives are on the table and we call on all institutions to show responsibility, and work together swiftly to find a way forward in light of a challenging situation on the ground.
That is the surest way to build a Union that is better prepared, more resilient, and more responsive in the face of future crises. A strong European Heath Union that protects our citizens.”
The Regulation will now have to be formally adopted by the Council and the European Parliament before it can enter into force.
In its proposal for a European Health Union in November 2020, the Commission focused on crisis preparedness and response measures including revising the mandate of the ECDC to provide stronger coordination and scientific recommendations in preparation for an and during health crises. The proposal on a reinforced mandate for the European Medicines Agency was the first of the crisis-related proposals to be adopted. The related Proposal for a Regulation on serious cross-border threats to health is still under negotiation. The proposal on a framework of urgent measures related to medical countermeasures will be adopted by the Council. Together, these proposals reflect the lessons learnt from COVID-19 and form the basis for a strong European Health Union.
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