EU leaders propose measures for boosting pandemic preparedness

Madrid, Jun 9 (efe-epa).- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and three other European leaders are calling for a package of measures aimed at ensuring better preparedness for future pandemics.

Sanchez, Macron, Merkel and the heads of government of Denmark, Belgium and Poland on Tuesday signed a letter addressed to the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, and containing a working document with their proposals for improving regional cooperation.

They include access to shared databases, Europe-wide procurement of basic supplies to prevent shortages and efforts to promote and optimize the production of those essential materials within the European Union.

The leaders also propose a common strategy for the provision and storage of medical equipment, medicines, protective gear and testing material. And they call for a Europe-wide civil protection mechanism for guaranteeing the distribution of that material, among other measures.

One of the proposals, which the document says are aimed at guaranteeing the EU’s long-term resistance to future public health crises, advocates subjecting Europe’s various national health systems to “stress tests.”

The leaders also argue that preparations for future pandemics will be much more efficient if they are carried out jointly among all EU members rather than individually by each separate country.

Their first proposal urges an analysis of what has happened during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with a particular focus on deficiencies that have been observed.

For example, the EU leaders say joint work is needed on various aspects that include data sharing, research promotion, implementation of a regulatory framework and the coordination of supply distribution and production.

They also place special emphasis on guaranteeing supplies of medical equipment and medicines and call for ensuring a stock of these items covering all of the EU for up to three months.

The material to be stored includes personal protective equipment, tests, medicines and medical equipment needed to treat critical illnesses.

Separately, the EU must boost its vaccine-development capacity and improve its ability to diagnose and treat diseases, according to the document, which says the bloc also has a commitment to share the results of its research.

In addition, the leaders call for using European funds to finance research into potential vaccines, with the money to be allocated to those candidates most likely to develop and manufacture these preventative therapies.

They furthermore stress the need to fortify the European Single Market and say clearer and more permanent anti-trust rules would allow the bloc to better confront these types of crises. EFE-EPA


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