The EU Health Ministers called upon the European Commission to expand the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) into a forceful response centre for international health crises and to submit a strategy for how the manufacture of important medicinal products can be relocated to the European Union. These are key results of the Informal Meeting of the Health Ministers of the 27 EU Member States held today in Berlin. The video conference chaired by Federal Minister Jens Spahn was attended in person by the representatives of Germany's Trio Presidency partners: the Portuguese Minister of Health Marta Temido and the Slovenian Minister of Health Tomaž Gantar.

Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn:

The coronavirus pandemic has once more shown us Europeans the importance of standing shoulder to shoulder in a time of crisis. We must be better prepared to be able to ward off dangers together. Europe must become more independent from other countries when it comes to manufacturing important medicinal products. We need a European health crisis authority that is robust and better equipped. This is the only way it can quickly respond to an emergency and support the member states. Together we will succeed in strengthening Europe’s resilience.

The projects in detail:

  • To be able to respond to international health crises faster in future, the ECDC is to be expanded and given additional powers. To this end, a Health Task Force is to be set up within the ECDC that will also be able to support member states in preparing their crisis management. Going forward, a standardised EU-wide electronic surveillance system at the ECDC and in the member states, with common criteria and threshold values, is to provide real-time evaluation and analysis of health threats as well as model forecasts. Together, the ECDC and the member states are to draft an EU guideline on regional pandemic planning. For the corresponding ECDC expansion to go ahead, the EU Commission will be called upon to table a legislative proposal by the end of this year.
  • The fact that the manufacture of active substances for essential medicinal products is increasingly concentrated outside the EU, and is in some cases limited to a handful of manufacturing sites, increases the risk of supply shortages – and not only amidst a health crisis. This is why ensuring the supply of medicinal products is another key priority of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Measures such as providing financial incentives to preserve or relocate the manufacture of active substances for critical medicinal products to Europe are therefore to be jointly examined and an EU-wide data exchange on manufacturing sites facilitated. A dialogue, coordinated and institutionalised by the European Medicines Agency, is to be initiated between the member states and other actors at EU level. In close coordination with the member states, the European Commission is called upon to submit by October 2020 its announced EU Pharmaceutical Strategy that takes into account these concrete measures.
  • Europe is to also make full use of the potential of digitalisation in the EU’s health sector. This above all means improved access to and sharing of health data within the EU. To achieve this, a common Health Data Space is to be created that enables the privacy-compliant access to and exchange of health data for research, diagnosis and treatment. The EU Commission and member states will develop common framework conditions for this Health Data Space.