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Towards a European Health Union

Today, the European Commission has introduced a package of legislative proposals aiming to lay the groundwork for a European Health Union that Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, MEP of the Renaissance Delegation and Member of the Renew Europe group has been calling for since arriving in the European Parliament.

“For nine months, I have been relaying an ambitious and realistic vision of the EU Health Policy to European citizens, governments and the European Commission by participating very actively in the drafting of several resolutions on the coronavirus crisis and public health, a report on the management of medicines shortages and a strong position on the 2021-2027 Health Programme.

Our messages have been heard. The legislative package proposed today by the European Commission takes up 90% of our priorities and our demands. That's excellent news! The Commission responds very clearly to the 66% of European citizens who ask for more European skills in crisis management” underlines the Renew Europe Deputy Coordinator to the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee in the European Parliament.

" By strengthening our preparedness and response mechanisms to all types of health crises and by endowing the European agencies with increased skills and resources, the European Commission is starting to build a genuine European Health Union. This legislative package, once adopted by the Parliament and the Council, should enable us to respond effectively and jointly to any health crisis whatever its cause” adds the MEP.

“The regulation on serious cross-border health threats fully takes into account our demand for better coordination of national crisis preparedness plans. These, as we wished, will be evaluated and subjected to regular stress tests. We will no longer wait for a full-scale test like the coronavirus crisis to determine the resilience of our health systems. With this regulation, the EU will be able to ensure better epidemiological surveillance of infectious diseases, declare an EU health emergency, quickly adopt common measures to respond to health crises of all origins and ensure better transmission of important data between Member States. Based on the principles of European solidarity and unity, this proposal is the best response to the national selfishness which threatens to emerge since the beginning of the crisis " considers the MEP.

“From the onset of the crisis, I have called for strengthening the skills, staff and resources of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Very voluntary and reactive, these two agencies were absolutely not equipped with sufficient weapons to fight against a pandemic of this magnitude. The review of their respective mandates will, without a doubt, completely change the situation. These agencies will finally become key players at EU and international levels. Just like their international counterparts.

Until now, ECDC had only the right to issue technical guidance to, for example, healthcare professionals. In the future, the center will be able to make stronger recommendations to Member States (even if still non-binding) in a health crisis situation and to deploy, if necessary, European assistance teams in the Member States. These proposals go in the right direction. But, we will try to take the position of the European Parliament even further by suggesting the extension of the ECDC mandate to non-communicable diseases. This health crisis shows us, every day, to what extent infectious diseases and chronic diseases are intrinsically linked. This is why, in my opinion, they should be placed under the supervision of the same European agency.

Regarding the EMA, we have been calling for several months for the agency to be able to monitor and manage medicine shortages. The unavailability of drugs or medical devices can endanger the health and safety of Europeans during and outside of health crisis situations. The European Commission is brilliantly strengthening the powers of the EMA on this matter. I am also delighted that the Agency will have a unit dedicated to crisis management and be able to coordinate clinical trials on medicines, and in particular on vaccines " insists Véronique Trillet-Lenoir.

“With this legislative package, the European Commission is translating our words into action. She can already count on my support in this ambitious process. I now hope that the Member States will share this enthusiasm and support this first step towards building a real Europe Health Union, without modification of the Treaties.

This legislative package is just a prelude. In the following year, the Commission will also publish the Pharmaceutical Strategy, the European Cancer Plan and launch the creation of a "European BARDA".

The Conference on the Future of Europe will obviously allow us to draw with more precision the contours of this European Health Union which is finally emerging “concludes the MP.

Press contact : [email protected] 

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