Today, the Council reached a political agreement on the Regulation allowing for the activation of urgent and targeted medical countermeasures by the European Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) during public health emergencies in the EU. These measures include the procurement and purchase of crisis-relevant medical countermeasures and raw materials, the activation of reserved industrial facilities for flexible manufacturing of vaccines and therapeutics, the establishment of a Health Crisis Board with Member States and the creation of rapid monitoring mechanisms.
Welcoming the political agreement, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, made the following statement:
“An empowered European Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority is the centerpiece of a strong European Health Union that can respond swiftly and effectively to health emergencies. HERA needs to be up and running at full capacity as quickly as possible, and today's political agreement in the Council is a key step in this direction.
The political agreement on HERA's crisis powers adds a new instrument to HERA's toolbox, making it our watchtower and shield against future health threats. It will ensure that it can act swiftly in times of crisis, that we can stay ahead of the curve and that we have the medical equipment needed to fight back during health emergencies and protect our citizens from future health threats.
The current pandemic has highlighted the decisive role of EU coordination and cooperation throughout each phase of the pandemic, from crisis response to recovery. Building on this important lesson, we must ensure that we have the right tools and powers in place to respond when faced with an emergency.
COVID-19 was a wakeup call that no single country alone can address all the challenges associated with cross-border health threats. Preparedness needs to become part and parcel of our approach to health policy. Health security must become a collective European endeavour - for our Member States and with our Member States.
HERA is a true European endeavour, emblematic of the paradigm shift we have achieved over the past two years in EU health policy.”