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The European Union must respond more unanimously, faster and better to acute health crises such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. In a very serious crisis, a European emergency could be declared, according to a proposal presented by the European Commission on Wednesday.

Rutte was previously cautious about the European corona approach

The new proposed measures are “a response to some important lessons we have learned from the response to the pandemic so far,” said a spokesman for the European Commission.

During the corona crisis, the health approach was mainly the responsibility of the Member States. The European Commission wants more coordination from Brussels during a health crisis, resulting in better exchange of data, hospital beds and medical staff between European countries.

The ECDC, the European counterpart of the Dutch RIVM, must be able to advise countries on their approach. The institute should keep track of the number of infections in the Member States, so that immediate action can be taken if necessary. European laboratories should also form a network and thus provide unambiguous information.

In the next epidemic, the supply of pharmaceuticals should not be compromised again, the committee believes. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) should monitor this. If there are shortages of virus inhibitors or respirators for intensive care, for example, the agency could intervene.

Finally, the European Commission believes that in the event of a serious crisis, it should be possible to declare a European emergency, whereby the EU can take over responsibility for the supply of medical equipment and treatment.

The committee must agree on the plans again with the Member States and the European Parliament. Prime Minister Mark Rutte, among others, was previously cautious about a European corona approach. The EU has “no added value” in the fight against the acute epidemic, said Rutte last month.

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