Opening Remarks by Commissioner Kyriakides at the EPSCO Council – Cross Border Health Threats

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Chair, Ministers,

We’ve said this many times before, but I will not tire of repeating: the pandemic has shown us in no uncertain terms that working together is fundamental.

We are stronger when we act in unison, in the face of shared threats.

This is the thinking behind the European Health Union proposals that we presented back in November 2020.

Those proposals remain as relevant today as they were then.

All the proposals have been adopted except for the most important one: the stronger framework for cross-border health threats.

It will give us the right tools to respond to real threats – the latest being outbreaks of Hepatitis and Monkeypox, and Russia’s military assault on Ukraine, where we have successfully performed around 600 medical evacuations, using our cross-border mechanisms.

I know this is a challenging and complex proposal.

We are almost there in the negotiations.

One outstanding issue I must highlight is the joint procurement of medical countermeasures – inherent to a stronger Health Union.

It is one of the best examples  of how solidarity translates into tangible outcomes for citizens.

Our shared experience during the pandemic shows that for the joint procurement for medical countermeasures to be effective, we cannot be competing for the same products on extremely tight  markets.

If some of us engage in parallel negotiations for the exact same product, the outcome can only be negative.

We are stronger when we negotiate together, as a market of 430 million people.

Running parallel negotiations duplicates efforts, wastes resources, weakens our negotiating position, and creates confusion.

I would rather that we run fewer joint procurements but more effective ones.

The concept of exclusivity should therefore remain as part of the Regulation.

We are of course ready to show flexibility, and have exclusive procurements on the basis of case by case assessments – acting always with and on behalf of our Member States.

Ministers,

I call on you today to be ambitious and daring but also pragmatic. We need to overcome the taboos of the past that held back a true European health policy. The way we have dealt with COVID-19 is evidence of this.

With one final, firm push at the 23 June trilogue, we can at last reach political agreement on this key legislation.

This is what our citizens want.

They want to see the EU work as a strong European Health Union on such matters.

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