Merkel and Macron to the EU: “Prepare for the next pandemic”


BERLIN – A 5-page letter, an initiative of the Danish government, but also signed by the German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Macron, as well as leaders from Poland, Spain and Belgium. Addressee: the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Title: “How to make sure that the EU is prepared for the pandemic”.

In the text, it is argued that the coronavirus dynamic “raises doubts about how prepared the EU was for pandemics and stresses the need for a common European approach” so that the continent “arrives prepared for a second wave of the virus and future crises from pandemic”. The solutions will require a “holistic approach” which invests European industrial policy, research, digitization and funding

In short, it is a question of strengthening the EU’s “resilience”, starting with the fact of ensuring “a sufficient supply” of protective clothing, essential drugs and vaccines.

To prevent new epidemics, the six first propose centralizing certain data, constantly monitoring and comparing them, for example on the dynamics of a certain pandemic, but also on the available stocks of protective clothing, etc. The letter also aims to “strengthen the mandate” of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Spread (ECDC).

For a better “distribution and coordination of supplies”, the six propose to evaluate “minimum stocks”, that is a list of medicines, protective clothing and minimum mandatory vaccines to keep. And they want to strengthen the tasks of the European Civil Protection Mechanism.

The letter also argues that it is “vital” to increase research and development of vaccines and treatments and to “coordinate internationally” to develop and produce them. “Developing a vaccine,” reads the text, “is a huge and expensive task, a common European strategy has great added value”.

The six also suggest greater European convergence on diagnostics, treatment and sharing of health data. As for any reforms, the document aims to “examine the option of more permanent antitrust guidelines in pandemic cases” to allow “limited and temporary collaborations between companies”.

The EU must also learn to “find new trade partners” to “decrease dependence on supply chains from individual countries”. A clear reference to China and the bottlenecks in the supply of the masks during Covid19.

Finally, to encourage a return of production in Europe of key drugs, clothing and vaccines that have proved vital during the coronavirus, the text suggests that there is a “public” commitment to buy health products. And that the EU introduces “incentives” for companies to start producing goods in these fields.

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