European Council acts on COVID-19
European Union and its Member State leaders have increased their distance contacts and joint working on responses to the pandemic. Extraordinary video conference meetings of Heads of State have identified four main priorities areas of responsibilities:
- actions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus;
- urgent provision of medical equipment;
- allocation of funding for research for treatments and vaccines, for which 140 million euro had already been mobilised;
- adoption of measures to reducing the social and economic impact of the outbreak in the EU. This will include fiscal measures and changes to the EU budgets.
National health ministers and senior officials are now meeting in videocalls twice each week to plan and coordinate efforts across the EU. The main sources of information regarding European Council decisions and actions are available here.
European Commission emergency response mechanism used to stockpile medical equipment
The European Commission has set up the first “RescEU” stockpile of medical equipment to help EU countries with the COVID-19 pandemic. RescEU aims to improve both the protection of citizens from disasters and the management of emerging risks. The initial EU budget of the stockpile is €80 million and will include items such as:
- Intensive care medical equipment such as ventilators,
- Personal protective equipment such as reusable masks,
- Vaccines and therapeutics,
- Laboratory supplies.
The stockpile will be hosted by one or several Member States, who will be responsible for procuring the equipment. The Commission will finance 90% and the Emergency Response Coordination Centre will manage the distribution of the equipment.
The main updated information source on actions by the European Commission is here.
EU Health Security Committee acts on COVID-19 testing, capacities and digital solutions
The European Union Health Security Committee, of Member States, the European Commission and International Organisations including ECDC and WHO, has met to take forward COVID-19 actions, including:
- Support for countries with immediate and urgent need for health professionals.
- The online COVID19 Clinical Management Support System to support clinicians and healthcare providers to exchange knowledge;
- work between the WHO and the EC on a digital app to help people check their symptoms and in all European languages.
ECDC provides situation updates on COVID -19
The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) provides information, news and updates about the COVID-19 situation, including:
- Latest situation update, epidemiological curve and global distribution
- Situation dashboard: latest available data
- Current risk assessment
- Q&A on COVID-19
Employment and social impacts of COVID-19
The European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit addressed the March EPSCO Council of national Ministers with a public statement focussing on the actions needed to protect the social and labour sector. The European Commission has proposed a Corona Response Investment Initiative Fund, which allocates €37 billion mostly from the European Social Fund to support short-time work schemes, allowances for parents who cannot work to take care of their children and various other measures aimed at limiting unemployment and loss of income. The Fund can also co-finance the recruitment of additional healthcare workers as well as medical equipment.
EU regions launch exchange platform on COVID-19
The EU Committee of the Regions is launching an exchange platform to help local and regional leaders share needs and solutions and to enhance mutual support between local communities across Europe. It will also enable CoR Members to give their feedback on the EU actions already put in place, allowing a policy reality check from the ground. The CoR will provide regular and practical information about EU measures, with particular focus on financing opportunities.
European Parliament call for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to be Strengthened
On behalf of political groups, the Chair of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, Pascal Canfin, has written to the European Commission and the current Croatian EU Presidency of the Council to reiterate Parliament’s call for a stronger role for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in order to ensure an effective and harmonised EU response to infectious diseases like COVID-19.
EuroHealthNet has taken part in consultation processes regarding the roles and functions of ECDC in which we supported a stronger role, including to support national agencies, address inequalities and the social and economic determinants of communicable diseases, harness use of new data sources and assess digital solutions.
European Leaders agree need to improve legislation for air quality
The Environment Council of Environment Ministers from EU Member States has agreed on Conclusions on air quality. The Council considered that established air quality standards, in particular limit values, have been effective and remain essential to protect the health of citizens. However, the Council stressed that there is room for improvements to the legislative framework to ensure good air quality across the EU.
- Meanwhile a newly published Eurobarometer survey of public attitudes on environmental issues suggests public concerns are broadly stable. When asked if environmental issues have a direct effect on daily life and health’ 36% responded that they ‘totally agree’ – 3% fewer than when the question was asked in 2017. 42% said they ‘tend to agree’, the same number as in the previous survey. There has been a 2% increase in people that ‘tend to disagree’ and a 1% increase in people that ‘totally disagree’. When asked about the statement ‘You are worried about the impact of chemicals present in everyday products on your health’ 85% or people agreed, a 1% increase since 2017.
EU 'Circular Economy' and Industrial Plans Launched
In the framework of the European Green Deal, the European Commission has launched its new Circular Economy Action Plan. It aims to refocus the economy and society based on “reuse, repair recycle” in order to consume fewer resources. It aims to change the way European consumers buy, use, and dispose of products. It is one of the new Commission’s strategies to help both public and private actors to transition to a sustainable economy.
- Meanwhile the European Commission launched a complementary Communication on ‘A New Industrial Strategy for Europe. It will propose a new Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, a Comprehensive Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility, the new Circular Economy Action Plan, further legislation and guidance on green public procurement, and a renewed focus on innovation, investment and skills. A new EU Pharmaceutical Strategy will also be presented, focusing on the availability, affordability, sustainability and security of supply of pharmaceuticals, the need for which has been highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis.
- Most EU legislative, programme and future budget (MFF) proposals and decisions are necessarily delayed by the COVID-19 emergencies. EuroHealthNet is liaising closely with EU Institutions to update and brief our Partnership on revised schedules and planning. Meanwhile we are currently developing external statements and advice to be ready for publication when the legislative process resumes. Please keep in touch via www.eurohealthnet.eu for relevant information.
Infant mortality nearly halved in the EU between 1998 and 2018
In the EU in 2018, around 14 600 children died before reaching one year of age. This is equivalent to an infant mortality rate of 3.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2018, the highest infant mortality rates in the EU were registered in Romania (6.0 deaths per 1 000 live births), Bulgaria (5.8 deaths) and Malta (5.6 deaths), and the lowest in Estonia (1.6 deaths) and Slovenia (1.7 deaths).