Sunday

24th Oct 2021

Coronavirus: EU ministers urge members to share supplies

  • 'European solidarity is in the self-interest of us all,' said EU health commissioner, Stella Kyriakides (Photo: European Union)

EU health ministers voiced concerns about the possible shortage in protective equipment and medicines in some member states due to the coronavirus outbreak, after Germany, France, and the Czech Republic blocked the export of anti-virus gear.

"We don't have enough protective masks," said Czech health minister Adam Vojtech as he joined the extraordinary meeting with EU health ministers held on Friday (6 March).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The problem is that the demand is much higher than the supply. A third of the world's production of drugs is located in China and also in India, which as far as I know also has stopped exports of drugs recently," he added.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Friday that they were evaluating stocks.

But the agency urged politicians to open "a wider debate" with the pharmaceutical industry in order to anticipate possible shortages.

Dutch health minister, Bruno Bruins, called on the European Union to be "less dependent" on third countries for the production of medicines while asking member states to show solidarity.

"It is not a solution if other countries impose an export ban on masks," Bruins said, adding that this could lead to "major problems for the Dutch health system" if the numbers of coronavirus cases increased.

Likewise, the commissioner for health, Stella Kyriakides, said that "European solidarity is in the self-interest of us all".

"I believe our efforts should be focused on finding solutions that benefit the Union citizens as a whole," she added.

"We must all be aware that a lack of solidarity towards European partners on any aspect of the crisis today may bring a lack of solidarity down the road," Kyriakides also said.

According to the Belgian health minister Maggie de Block, limiting exports of medical supplies was "not in the spirit of the EU".

However, the German health minister, Jens Spahn, asked members to try to understand the measures taken by Berlin.

"The reason we are upping the pressure is that the situation is different in our countries than the others. We are in a different phase than those countries, which are still detecting and containing cases," he said.

Additionally, the Irish minister for health, Simon Harris, said that it was important to take into consideration that "one action taken or not taken in one member state has a direct effect on other member states".

In this global crisis, there were two great challenges for the EU: misinformation and those who are trying to economically benefit from the outbreak by increasing prices of products such as hand disinfectant, Harris warned.

However, the Estonian health minister, Riina Sikkut, said that fighting disinformation would require better and real-time exchange of information.

The director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Europe, Hans Henri Kluge, also said that it was essential to combat misinformation about the virus, which he called an "infodemic".

"Fear is normal, but it can be managed and moderated with the right information," he said.

Meanwhile, the European Commission also announced on Friday that €37.5m had been secured for urgently needed research on coronavirus vaccine development, treatment, and diagnostics.

As of 8 March 2020, over 109,640 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide, as well as 3,802 deaths - most of them in China - and 60,956 recoveries.

Over 7,000 cases of coronavirus have been registered in Italy, the most-affected country in Europe - followed by France (1,126), Germany (1,018) and Spain (613).

Policy input goes online after coronavirus hits Roma Week

The European Commission is preparing a new post-2020 EU policy on Roma inclusion as part of "A Strong Social Europe for Transition". This new EU Roma inclusion policy is scheduled to take effect in the final quarter of 2020.

Coronavirus: EU at high risk amid global panic

The European disease prevention agency on Monday increased the risk of coronavirus infection in the EU to "high," as the outbreak spread to 18 member states. The commission also launched a "corona response team" to work on halting the disease.

Feature

Coronavirus hysteria hits Romania

Romanian authorities earlier this week confirmed the first, and only, case of coronavirus infection - yet public hysteria over a possible national outbreak hit the country days before.

EU steps up coronavirus fight in first online summit

As Italy went into lockdown EU leaders discussed a more coordinated response to the outbreak. The commission promised financial help, as more and more meetings are cancelled in the EU institutions.

Europe prepares piecemeal coronavirus shutdown

EU countries have introduced partial travel bans, shut down schools, sports and cultural events, closed cinemas and theatres in an effort to slow down the spread of covonavirus. Fears over the economic turmoil also grow.

News in Brief

  1. Russia's anti-vax campaign backfired, EU says
  2. China angered as MEPs call for Taiwan talks
  3. Emissions from La Palma volcano reach Brussels
  4. Body of eighth victim of Belarus border-crisis found in river
  5. Report: Syrian bank fiddling currency to evade EU sanctions
  6. Nato adopts plan to counter new Russian threats
  7. Alleged killer of British MP 'felt affiliated' to IS
  8. Coronavirus: Belgium returns to 'red' zone

EU Commission tightlipped on Hungary recovery-plan decision

Among the criteria needed for EU pandemic recovery funds is for member states to propose arrangements "expected to prevent, detect and correct corruption, fraud, and conflicts of interests when using the funds provided."

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. EU states want more Belarus sanctions
  2. Gas price spike exposes rift at EU summit
  3. Poland vows not to give into EU 'blackmail' at summit
  4. EU vows to uphold Paris climate ambition amid scientists' fears
  5. Commissions's new migration pact still seeking 'landing zone'
  6. Europe can't ignore Chinese encroachment in Ukraine
  7. Lithuania - where 'biodiversity funding' is cutting down trees
  8. Dutch lawyers take Frontex to EU court over pushbacks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us