Written by Nicole Scholz,
Serious threats to health – such as those due to infectious disease outbreaks or environmental factors – do not respect borders. They do, however, require cross-border cooperation and a coordinated response.
Decision No 1082/2013/EU is the framework for European Union action on health emergencies. It provides for information exchange, risk assessment and joint procurement, among other mechanisms. The EU-level response is coordinated by the Health Security Committee. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control meanwhile plays a crucial role in identifying, assessing and communicating threats to health from communicable diseases. Parliament has adopted own-initiative and legislative resolutions focusing both on the general and more specific aspects of cross-border threats to health.
At global level, all EU Member States are party to the legally binding International Health Regulations that require them to develop, strengthen and maintain core public health capacities for surveillance and response. Implementation is coordinated by the World Health Organization.
Going forward, Member States have expressed interest in exploiting the potential of joint procurement beyond pandemic influenza vaccines. Moreover, a joint action on strengthened International Health Regulations and preparedness in the EU has recently been launched, focusing, in particular, on countering biological and chemical terror attacks in Europe across the health, security and civil protection sectors.
Read the complete briefing on ‘Cross-border threats to health: EU action on preparedness and response‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.
Listen to policy podcast ‘How well prepared is the EU for serious health emergencies?‘ on YouTube.