Procedure : 2020/2691(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0219/2020

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 08/07/2020 - 21
CRE 08/07/2020 - 21

Votes :

Texts adopted :

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<TitreSuite>to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>

<Titre>on the EU’s public health strategy post-COVID-19</Titre>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Véronique Trillet‑Lenoir</Depute>

<Commission>{Renew}on behalf of the Renew Group</Commission>


See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0216/2020


European Parliament resolution on the EU’s public health strategy post-COVID-19


The European Parliament,

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas COVID-19 has highlighted that the European Union does not have strong enough tools to deal with a health emergency such as the spread of a novel infectious disease, which by its nature knows no borders;

B. whereas the World Health Organization (WHO) describes health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’; whereas the Union has not yet adopted a common definition of health;

C. whereas the right to physical and mental health is a fundamental human right; whereas every person has the right to access modern and comprehensive healthcare without discrimination; whereas universal health coverage is a UN Sustainable Development Goal that all signatories have committed to reach by 2030;

D. whereas the European Union has significant competence in public health, while healthcare systems remain the responsibility of the Member States, with minimal cooperation at EU level;

E. whereas Article 168(1) of the TFEU stipulates that ‘a high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Community policies and activities’; whereas the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled on a number of occasions that the EU can pursue public health objectives through internal market measures;

F. whereas the Commission communication of 20 October 2010 entitled ‘Solidarity in Health: Reducing Health Inequalities in the EU’ (COM(2009)0567) underlines that, throughout the EU, there is a social gradient in health status; whereas the WHO defines this social gradient as being the link between socioeconomic inequalities and inequalities in the areas of health and access to healthcare;

G. whereas health inequalities are rooted in social inequalities in terms of living conditions and models of social behaviour linked to gender, race, educational standards, employment, income and the unequal distribution of access to medical assistance, sickness prevention and health promotion services;

H. whereas currently, the EU regulates products relevant to health and health outcomes, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, tobacco, alcohol, food and chemicals;

I. whereas EU regulation and policy exists on clinical trials, coordination of healthcare systems through the Cross Border Healthcare Directive[1] and discussions on the proposal on health technology assessments (HTAs) are ongoing;

J. whereas health research is financed through Horizon 2020 and the upcoming Horizon Europe, the Health Programme and the upcoming EU4Health Programme, and other EU funds;

K. whereas the European Medicines Agency (EMA), European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) are all executive agencies with important public health functions;

L. whereas the current infrastructure for emergency response, including the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the Cross-Border Health Threats Decision and the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, has been tested to its limits during the current health crisis;

M. whereas healthcare professionals have been exposed to unacceptably high risks and, in some cases, have been forced to make decisions on who can and cannot benefit from intensive care;

N. whereas the COVID-19 crisis has changed working conditions for many workers in Europe and raised new questions regarding health and safety in the workplace;

O. whereas the COVID-19 health crisis and its spread throughout Europe has exposed the difference in capacity between the Member States’ healthcare systems, and demonstrated that, in circumstances where an unexpected health threat emerges, some Member States may become reliant on their neighbouring countries having sufficiently resilient systems;

P. whereas the varying approaches to collecting and analysing data relating to COVID-19 in the EU has made it difficult to compare EU-wide data;

Q. whereas some Member States suffer significantly from brain drain, with highly qualified healthcare professionals opting to work in Member States with better pay and conditions than their own;

R. whereas EU joint procurement was successfully used for personal protective equipment, testing kits, ventilators and some medicines, although the mechanism proved to be slower and less effective than what was needed;

S. whereas the rescEU capacity stockpiled key resources such as masks, ventilators and laboratory equipment, to be deployed where most needed;

T. whereas various ad-hoc arrangements were put in place during the COVID-19 health crisis, including the Commission’s panel of experts and guidelines for treating patients and sending healthcare workers to other Member States;

U. whereas pharmaceutical supply chains are reliant on active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) or generic drugs, which are manufactured in third countries, sometimes by only one factory in the world; whereas the export bans imposed during the COVID-19 health crisis highlighted the danger posed by relying on such supply chains;

V. whereas COVID-19 has demonstrated the One Health principle (i.e. the inter-dependencies between human health, animal health and the health of our planet); whereas the emergence of zoonotic diseases, which transfer from animals to humans, is exacerbated by climate change and environmental degradation;

1. Urgently calls for the creation of a European Health Union;

2. Calls on the Member States to urgently carry out stress tests on their healthcare systems to verify that they are prepared for a possible resurgence of COVID-19 and any other future health crisis; calls on the Commission to coordinate such work and establish common parameters;

3. Strongly advocates for the promotion of effective prevention and hygiene measures to prevent and control infections; considers that certain key habits, including hygiene practices, should be developed from an early age when children are best able to integrate them; supports educational prevention programmes on health for the youth (harmless behaviours, healthy nutrition, sport, etc.)

4. Calls on the Commission to propose a directive on minimum standards for quality healthcare, on the basis of the findings of the stress tests, which maintains the competence of Member States in the management, organisation and funding of their healthcare systems and guarantees patient safety, decent working and employment standards for healthcare workers and European resilience in the face of pandemics and other public health crises;

5. Calls on the Commission to establish a European Healthcare Index to track the progress of healthcare systems in the EU;

6. Calls on the Commission to integrate healthcare indicators into the European Semester;

7. Calls on the Commission to adopt a common set of health determinants to monitor health inequalities by age, sex, socio-economic status and geographic location and establish a methodology for auditing the health situation in the Member States, with a view to identifying and prioritising areas in need of improvement and increased funding; considers that the Commission should evaluate the effectiveness of measures in order to reduce health inequalities resulting from policies covering social, economic and environmental risk factors;

8. Calls on the Member States to provide integrated healthcare, accessible at local and regional level, so as to enable patients to be better supported in their own local and social environments;

9. Calls on the Commission to propose the creation of a European Health Response Mechanism (EHRM) to respond to all types of health crises (infectious, chemical, environmental, biological, food and nuclear), to strengthen operational coordination at EU level, and to monitor the constitution and the triggering of the strategic reserve of medicines and medical equipment and ensure its proper functioning; stresses that the EHRM would formalise the working methods established during the COVID-19 health crisis, building on the measures provided for in the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive, the Cross Border Health Threats Decision[2] and the Union Civil Protection Mechanism;

10. Calls for the creation of a health crisis management unit to run the EHRM, coordinated by the ECDC and led by the Commissioner for Health and the Commissioner for Crisis Management, together with the EMA and an expert panel; calls for this unit to come up with a pandemic emergency plan , in order to have a coordinated response;

11. Underlines that coordination between national health systems is essential in order to guarantee solidarity within the Union; stresses that joint procurement, the coordinated transfer of equipment, reserve and circulation of blood products and organs, and patient transport in cross-border care should be prepared for adequately;

12. Calls for the creation of a digital exchange platform, similar to the COVID-19 Data Portal, which could facilitate exchanges on epidemiological data, on science-based practice recommendations to health professionals and hospitals, and on the exact state of mobilisable capacities and stocks of medical products;

13. Calls for the rescEU capacity to be reinforced, which should include stockpiling and the strengthening emergency medical teams’ capacities;

14. Considers that the Union should be able to rely on the mobilisation of health professionals through the European Medical Corps, which was created to enable quick medical assistance and public health expertise to all Member States;

15. Supports EU-wide mobility for healthcare professionals, during both their education and professional careers through Erasmus +, and the role such mobility plays in improving knowledge and expertise on health threats;

16. Calls on the Commission, Member States and global partners to ensure rapid, fair, equal and affordable access to future COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, once they are available;

17. Calls for EU joint procurement to be used to procure COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and to be used more routinely so as to avoid the Member States competing against each other and to ensure equal and affordable access to important medicines and medical devices, especially for new innovative antibiotics, new vaccines and curative medicines, and medicines for rare diseases;

18. Calls on the Commission to revise the joint procurement mechanism under the Cross Border Health Threats Decision and propose a new regulation that would promote their use so as to buy vaccines and treatments, to guarantee the efficiency and transparency of the process and to ensure an equal and affordable access to medicines, medical devices, protective equipment and other relevant health products; considers that a part of the medical products purchased via the EU joint procurement procedure could constitute an EU contingency reserve of medical products that are subject to shortages;

19. Calls on the Commission and Member States to revisit the idea of transparency of net pricing and reimbursement of different treatments through the revision of Council Directive 89/105/EEC[3] to put the Member States on an equal footing when negotiating with manufacturers for treatments that are not jointly procured;

20. Calls on the Member States to adopt rapidly a common position on the HTA proposal, so as to support cooperation on health technology assessment at Union level;

21. Calls for the swift implementation of the severely delayed Clinical Trials Regulation[4] to ensure transparency of clinical trial results and facilitate larger, cross-border clinical trials;

22. Calls for the coordination and pooling of European multicentre clinical trials and promote the research and training actions of future European university networks;

23. Calls on the Commission to propose a revision of the regulation on the Orphan Regulation[5], of the Paediatric Regulation[6], and of Directive 2001/83/EC on a Community code relating to medicinal products for human use[7];

24. Calls for a robust EU pharmaceutical strategy to be put in place to address the problems in EU and global pharmaceutical supply chains, which should include legislative measures, policies and incentives to encourage the production of essential APIs and medicines in Europe and to guarantee supply and affordable access at all times; calls for mandatory national inventories of medicines and medical devices to be set up in each Member State and for information to be communicated to the Commission and the EMA to ensure that any possible shortages can be planned for and addressed;

25. Calls on the Member States to promote and ensure access to sexual and reproductive rights services, including access to contraception and the right to access safe abortion services; calls on the Member States to consider access to contraception, including emergency contraception, and to safe abortion services where legally possible, as essential healthcare services to be maintained in times of crisis;

26. Calls for the establishment of a specific joint action on the prevention of shortages of medical supply to allow for the exchange of good practice among the Member States and for the development of common prevention measures;

27. Calls for the Commission to issue targeted guidelines on the Public Procurement Directive[8] regarding the awarding of bids to the pharmaceutical sector; calls for such guidelines to be based on the ‘most economically advantageous tender’ (MEAT criteria), and stresses that they should aim to ensure the best value for money rather than simply the cheapest product and should consider what contribution such bids would bring to the security of EU supply;

28. Calls on the Commission to propose a revised mandate for the ECDC to significantly increase their budget, staffing and competences, which would enable the ECDC  to extend their competencies to chronic diseases, to elaborate mandatory guidance for Member States and to be able to coordinate laboratory research in times of health crises;

29. Calls for a reinforced role for the EMA in monitoring, preventing and responding to medicine shortages and in the coordination of the design and approval of EU clinical trials during crises;

30. Believes that the creation of a European equivalent to the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority should be explored, which would be responsible for the procurement and development of countermeasures against bioterrorism, chemical, nuclear and radiological threats, as well as pandemic influenza and other emerging diseases;

31. Calls for the role of the EU-OSHA to be strengthened to ensure that healthcare workers are not put at risk, and to promote healthy and safe workplaces across the Union;

32. Underlines that vaccination prevents an estimated 2.5 million deaths each year worldwide and reduces disease-specific treatment costs; considers that the worrying phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy and the disinformation on vaccination should be addressed in order to reassure people in the EU;

33. Calls for EU guidance in health to be strengthened and to be made mandatory in certain instances; notes that some examples could include EU action plans on antimicrobial resistance and stresses that vaccination should be reinforced with binding measures, such as an EU vaccination card for people in the EU; calls, in particular, for ECDC guidance pertinent to the COVID19 health crisis to be made mandatory, such as methods for the recording of deaths and recoveries;

34. Calls for the establishment of a communication portal for the public would allow the Union to share validated information, send alerts to people in the EU and fight against disinformation; stresses that the portal could include a wide range of information, prevention campaigns and youth education programmes; notes that such a portal could also be used to promote, in cooperation with the ECDC, comprehensive immunisation coverage at EU level;

35. Calls on the Commission to put forward, in consultation with civil society, the creation of a European health data space, which fully complies with the European data protection framework, in order to improve standardisation, data sharing and the adoption and promotion of international health data standards; considers that this European health data space would constitute a crucial step towards supporting patients and their health providers directly, ensuring that people have control over their personal data, facilitating research, and supporting the development of diagnostics, treatments and services; underlines the fact that the more the Union relies on shared data in order to improve European healthcare, the more the EU will increase its independence from large tech companies, and the more it would improve its cybersecurity capabilities – thus guaranteeing data safety and avoiding security breaches that would expose patients’ personal data;

36. Supports innovation in the field of digitalisation, since it would bring tangible benefits to patients and healthcare professionals and provide cost-effective high-quality healthcare, while reducing inequalities; stresses that important steps could be taken when it comes to digital skills, both for healthcare professionals and patients, especially in rural and sparsely populated areas;

37. Calls for the reinforcement of e-health and m-health as well as the use of telemedicine and remote monitoring of patients, especially in times of sanitary crises;

38. Firmly believes in the One Health principle ,which connects human health, animal health and environmental protection; believes that action against climate change, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and unsustainable food production methods is critical in protecting humans from emerging pathogens;

39. Commits to continue addressing health risk factors, such as tobacco use, alcohol use, poor nutrition, air pollution, exposure to hazardous chemicals and health inequalities, to improve health outcomes;

40. Calls for the European Reference Networks (ERN) to be expanded to include to communicable (such as ERN in the field of health crises management) and non-communicable diseases;

41. Calls on the Commission to develop a strategy for a ‘resilient Europe’, consisting of a risk assessment map and options to address sound management principles, investments in healthcare systems, and pandemic response at EU level, including resilient supply chains in the EU;

42. Calls for a coordinated, collaborative and open approach in the field of research, with a stronger role for the Commission in coordinating health research in order to avoid duplication and to drive research into areas such as required medicines, vaccines, medical devices and equipment;

43. Calls on the Commission to proceed to a systematic health impact assessment, built on cross-sectorial indicators, of all EU policies to evaluate their impact on improving health and the well-being of people in the EU, under an approach that makes health a focus in all policies;

44. Considers that cooperation with third countries should be strengthened by exchanging knowledge and best practices regarding health systems preparedness and response; Calls on the Commission and the Member States to build a strong and effective partnership between the Union and Africa and to prioritise more robust health systems, universal access to health services, and global health research and development in the framework of the EU’s Strategy with Africa (JOIN(2020)0004);

45. Strongly welcomes the exponential increase in the proposed budget for the new EU4Health programme;

46. Considers that protecting the health of vulnerable populations against environment-related diseases is an essential investment in order to ensure adequate human and economic development;

47. Calls on the Commission to propose a new Strategic Framework for Health and Safety for 2021-2027, to update legislation on the right to disconnect, to propose a new directive on work-related musculoskeletal disorders, and a new directive on mental well-being in the workplace that sets out to recognise anxiety, depression and burn-out as occupational diseases;

48. Calls on the Commission to make a legislative proposal to include substances that are toxic for reproduction within the scope of the Directive 2004/37/EC on carcinogens and mutagens at work[9] to align it with the way that substances classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction (CMRs) are treated in other EU chemicals legislation (e.g. REACH[10] or other regulations on biocides, pesticides and cosmetics);

49. Considers that the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic should be addressed as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which could come forward with clear proposals on how to bolster EU health policy;

50. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission;


[1] OJ L 88, 4.4.2011, p. 45.

[2] OJ L 293 5.11.2013, p. 1.

[3] OJ L 40, 11.2.1989, p. 8.

[4] OJ L 158, 27.05.2014, p.1.

[5] OJ L 18, 22.1.2000, p. 1.

[6] OJ L 378, 27.12.2006, p. 1.

[7] OJ L 311, 28.11.2001,p.67.

[8] OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p.65.

[9] OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, p.50.

[10] OJ L 396 30.12.2006, p. 1.

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