The EU is taking another step to improve its response to health emergencies. The Council reached a political agreement on a new law that would facilitate the purchase of medicines, vaccines and raw materials, activate emergency funding and enable the monitoring of production facilities when another health crisis hits.
The purchase at EU level of COVID-19 vaccines was a success story. With today’s agreement we are paving the way for EU countries to join up to ensure they have the medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to protect their citizens.
Janez Poklukar, Minister of Health for Slovenia
The Council regulation will establish a Health Crisis Board to coordinate and integrate actions related to crisis-relevant medical countermeasures at EU level. The regulation sets up monitoring mechanisms and enables the procurement and purchase of countermeasures. It stipulates how to activate EU FAB facilities – a network of ever warm production capacities for vaccines and medicines manufacturing – as well as emergency research.
Stronger role of member states
The Health Crisis Board, which coordinates at EU level the supply of and access to medical countermeasures, will be co-chaired by the Commission and the member state holding the rotating presidency of the Council. Member states also decided that the Commission should consult the Board before taking action.
When it comes to the purchases of medical countermeasures and raw materials, the member states may mandate the Commission to act as a central purchasing body. Where the Commission intends to conclude a contract, it must inform the participating Member States. They also have the opportunity to express their comments on the draft contracts – which the Commission should take into consideration.
On 16 September 2021, the European Commission launched a European Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA). HERA is expected to ensure the development, production and distribution of medicines, vaccines and other medical countermeasures (e.g. gloves and masks).
In addition to the launch of HERA, the Commission also proposed a Council regulation on the emergency framework regarding medical countermeasures. It constitutes the legal basis for crisis activities in the event of an emergency.
On the basis of today’s political agreement, the final text (following technical adjustments) will be submitted to the Council for adoption in the first months of 2022.
Source: Emergency framework for medical countermeasures: Council reaches political agreement – Consilium (europa.eu)
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