The COVID-19 crisis has revealed the fragility of the European Union in terms of public health. Limited competences and pharmaceutical dependence on third countries have hampered the EU's ability to oversee the response to the coronavirus outbreak. Disjointed actions of national governments and a lack of transparency in the collection and use of data have exacerbated the fallout.
While it is still early to evaluate the overall management of this crisis at EU level, the new Renew Europe vision paper looks at the lessons to be learnt so far.
The group calls for an effective system to coordinate the EU's response to future public health threats, improving on the performance of existing European health agencies as well as a new European Health Response Mechanism to be created in order to deal with all types of health crises.
The shortcomings of current pharmaceutical strategies are also evident. Renew Europe envisions ways to strengthen the European medicines market to guarantee equal access to drugs. The paper strongly advocates for increased disease prevention, ensured funding for high-level research, improved affordability of healthcare innovations and enhanced joint procurement procedures for medicines and vaccines. All these objectives need to be boosted through an ambitious and adequately financed EU4Health Programme.
Véronique Trillet-Lenoir MEP comments: "Commission President von der Leyen, in her State of the European Union address last month, said that the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 crisis should be addressed in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which should come forward with ambitious proposals on how to strengthen the European Health Policy. I could not agree more."