Strasbourg, 3 July 2013
Health: Major step forward in tackling serious cross-border health threats – statement by Tonio Borg, Commissioner in charge of Health
Today, the European Parliament voted in favour of the Decision on Serious Cross-border Threats to Health. Welcoming the vote, Tonio Borg, EU Commissioner for Health, stated:
"Today's vote marks a major milestone for health security in the EU, and I congratulate and thank the Rapporteur, Mr Pargneaux, the shadow rapporteurs and all the Members of the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety for all their work. I extend my thanks to the Danish, Cypriot and Irish Presidencies of the Council who worked hard with the European Parliament and the Commission to agree on a EU law which will help protect our citizens from a wide range of cross border health threats.
Many of us - citizens, health professionals, and policy makers alike, keep a watchful eye on emerging health threats – be they the new strain of avian influenza A (H7N9), the novel Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) or a foodborne disease such as an outbreak of e.Coli. In addition, slower spreading threats like antimicrobial resistance or the possibility to get an infection while in health care also represent a risk to citizens' health. EU citizens need to be assured that a robust and coordinated risk and crisis response is in place to protect them.
That is precisely the aim of the Decision adopted today. People in Europe will be better protected from a wide range of health threats through strengthened preparedness planning and coordination at EU level for serious cross border threats caused by communicable diseases, chemical, biological and environmental events. One of the key achievements of the Decision is that it establishes the legal basis for the coordination of voluntary joint procurement of vaccines and medicines at EU level. We will start with the procurement of pandemic vaccines: the Member States who participate in this process will be able to provide their citizens with vaccines under better conditions than in the past.
The Decision also boosts the European Union's authority in the event of a health emergency: It allows the EU to declare a health emergency within its territory to trigger measures under its pharmaceutical legislation so that vaccines and medicines can be provided faster. The clear mandate for the Health Security Committee to coordinate risk and crisis response, including communication, during a crisis, means that coordination of public health emergencies will be further improved."