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Parliamentary question - P-002273/2020(ASW)Parliamentary question

    Answer given by Mr Breton on behalf of the European Commission

    Whilst the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union allows for exceptional restrictions to the fundamental principle of free movement of goods, these need to remain appropriate and proportionate to the objective pursued. In line with its guidelines[1], the Commission reacted actively to any export restriction imposed by the Member States during the pandemic. National restrictions have now been lifted. Immediate action was taken to ensure the free circulation of goods, and issuing concrete guidance to prevent negative impact on critical staff.

    To further prevent shortages, the Commission set up a COVID-19 Clearing House for medical equipment. It cooperates with national authorities and industry to facilitate the identification of available supplies and accelerate their matching with demand by Member States. The Commission announced its support to specific cooperation projects initiated by industry to prevent shortages of critical COVID-19 medicines. The Commission further issued a comfort letter to clear, from a competition law perspective, planned coordination in the pharmaceutical industry to increase production and to improve supply of critical medicines. Such support included a commitment[2] to provide antitrust guidance and support to facilitate the proper and swift implementation of industry cooperation. The proposal for the new EU4Health programme adopted in May 2020[3], with a budget of EUR 9.4 billion, will support further action in this area[4].

    The Commission actively supports the research actions to tackle the coronavirus pandemic[5], developed jointly with national authorities.

    A Communication on Pharmaceutical Strategy[6] will address the issue of shortages and reliance of the pharmaceutical manufacturing chain on third countries.

    Last updated: 14 September 2020
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