Member states are currently working together to procure medical supplies, secure cross-border transport and the flow of goods, treat patients from neighbouring countries, develop financial tools to support workers and industries, and pool their resources to find a viable vaccine for COVID-19.
The German Presidency of the Council of the European Union wants to take steps to also learn from the pandemic. In doing so, the EU can ensure that member states can continue to effectively coordinate and govern in future crisis situations.
To improve the EU’s crisis management and disaster prevention, the German Presidency wants to work with European partners in particular to:
- Strengthen the epidemiological expertise of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and its ability to advise member states
- Develop EU-wide tracing methods, including interoperable smartphone apps, that require minimal data, are voluntary, and conform to privacy regulations and high IT-security standards
- Strengthen the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, including rescEU and the EU Civil Protection Pool (ECPP)
- Develop and expand an EU Knowledge Network for disaster prevention that works in tandem with member states’ local authorities
- Begin a “lessons learned” process to evaluate how the EU’s Emergency Support Instrument, which allocates funds for emergency measures, can become even more effective in the future
Strengthening healthcare services
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted that coordination is needed to strengthen the EU’s ability to act on behalf of all member states within the healthcare sector.
The German Presidency plans to lead discussions on:
- Improving the supply of medicines, medical devices and personal protective equipment
- Expanding European cooperation in the production of critical medicines
- Examining how the Joint Procurement Agreement (JPA) can react more quickly to medical supply bottlenecks
- Exploring with the Council how to optimise government procurement in emergency situations
Bolstering research capacity
Research and development are core pillars of Europe’s strategy to bolster innovation and competitiveness on the continent. The German Presidency wants to support the continent’s research capacity so that policymakers can quickly make informed decisions during crisis situations. Such measures include:
- Developing the European Research Area (ERA) into a dynamic and targeted catalyst of innovation in the fight against pandemics
- Discussions on how to further develop the EU action plan ERAvsCorona for mid- and long-term use