- Clear set of recommendations to better prepare the EU for future crises
- Reinforce the European Health Union and the resilience of national health systems
- Increase transparency, coordination, solidarity
Parliament’s Special Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic has adopted recommendations to improve EU crisis management and preparedness for future health emergencies.
MEPs analysed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused one of the most profound and fundamental crises in the history of the EU, evaluated the effectiveness of EU and national measures and made specific recommendations to address gaps and weaknesses in the response. The report was adopted on Monday by 23 votes in favour, 13 against and one abstention.
Key health proposals put forward by the Special Committee include investing more in healthcare, introducing surveillance plans on emerging health threats, carrying out stress tests on national healthcare systems, increasing transparency for joint procurement activities, improving the EU’s strategic autonomy on key pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines and developing an EU strategy to tackle “long COVID”.
To protect democracy and fundamental rights, MEPs want the right to information and freedom of expression to be better protected, enhanced crisis communication and transparent decision-making processes, parliamentary oversight at both EU and national level when emergency legislation is being adopted, and concrete measures to support marginalised communities, minorities and disadvantaged people during times of crisis.
To tackle the social and economic consequences of the crisis, the report asks for stronger action to combat gender-based violence and for the gender perspective to be incorporated into all EU policies and national recovery plans, for the needs of the growing elderly population to be met and for standards to be set on working from home throughout the EU.
As regards recommendations for global action, MEPs call for international investment and coordination to be increased to scale up critical vaccines’ production, reinforcing the cooperation between the EU and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to strengthen the International Heath Regulations and address any gaps in the new pandemic treaty, and for a constructive solution to be found on intellectual property protection.
Details on the calls for action are available here.
COVI Chair Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D, BE) said: “Over the past year, our Committee has undertaken a thorough assessment of the course of the pandemic and its impact on the EU. It became clear that Europe not only needs the tools to develop long-term policies, with clear goals and roadmaps. It must be ready to act quickly, efficiently and in the interests of every European in times of crisis. Moreover, the EU must also thoroughly evaluate its role in the global response to the pandemic and commit more than ever to international cooperation and solidarity, especially with partners in the Global South. It is now up to the European Commission to act on our recommendations and put the necessary proposals on the table to shape a more crisis-resilient European Union fit for the future.”
COVI Rapporteur Dolors Montserrat (EPP, ES) said: "The COVI report is the result of dialogue, consensus and rigour. The EU’s response to the pandemic was exemplary in securing vaccines, NextGenerationEU funds and preparing for future health emergencies. We must strengthen the EU further to protect our health workers, not neglect any disease and help the most vulnerable. We must boost research, fight against fake news and cyber attacks, and create a competitive pharmaceutical sector that enhances the EU's strategic autonomy in health.”
On Tuesday 13 June at 14.00 CEST, COVI Chair Kathleen Van Brempt and rapporteur Dolors Montserrat will hold a press conference in the Daphne Caruana Galizia press room in Strasbourg. The event will be webstreamed here and journalists can connect to ask questions via Interactio.
Parliament’s plenary is expected to adopt the report in its July session.
In March 2022, Parliament established a “Special committee on the COVID-19 pandemic: lessons learned and recommendations for the future” (COVI). The committee evaluated not only the impact on health systems and the vaccination campaign, but also the broader socio-economic impact, the impact on the rule of law and democracy, and the international response to the pandemic. It organised a thorough consultation process through a series of public hearings, workshops and on-site missions, exchanging views with experts, policymakers from EU institutions and international organisations, epidemiologists, health ministers, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare workers and researchers. Its mandate ends on 19 July 2023.